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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

    vaccineThe vaccine issue is one of the most heated among parents these days. Do you vaccinate your kids? Skip vaccines? Slow vaccinate? Whatever you do, a measles outbreak in Texas should certainly make parents stop and think about who they're getting medical advice from, especially when it pertains to their kids.

    The outbreak has affected 11 people so far, including a baby as young as 4 months old, and health officials have tracked it back to a church. Eagle Mountain International Church, it should be noted, is part of the Kenneth Copeland Ministries, whose eponymous pastor is known for promoting faith healing and the (debunked by scientists) myth that autism and the vaccine that prevents measles are linked.

    Now Copeland's daughter is urging her congregation to get vaccinated, but the damage is done. The disease is spreading, in large part because of the 11 people sickened, eight had never been immunized

    And mark my words, this is a dangerous disease, especially to 4-month-old babies. The CDC warns that measles is rare -- because of vaccinations in America -- but highly contagious and possibly deadly. This is straight from the CDC:

    While measles is almost gone from the United States, it still kills nearly 200,000 people each year around the world. Measles can also make a pregnant woman have a miscarriage or give birth prematurely.

    Scary stuff.

    Serious stuff. 

    So why would anyone take the word of their pastor on this matter? They may be experts on theology, but they're certainly not experts on medicine.

    Vaccines are an important issue for parents, and one I understand researching. You don't have to take it on blind faith that you should vaccinate your child.

    But when you're doing that research, the most important thing is to make sure you have GOOD information, that you're going to valuable sources. A blog written by some conspiracy theorist living in his grandmother's basement is not a valuable source. A mommy group of women who still believe if they simply share a post on Facebook, Bill Gates will give them $5,000 is not a valuable source. Your checkout clerk at your favorite grocery store is not a valuable source. Your pastor is not a valuable source.

    You know who is?

    A pediatrician.

    If you don't trust one, go talk to a few; it's not wrong to get a second opinion.

    You can also check with the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, even the Department of Health and Human Services.

    You need science to make these decisions. Science, reason, and complete transparency (yes, I do believe that you should check to see if pharmaceutical companies have funded studies on vaccines).

    Who do YOU turn to for advice on vaccinating your children?

     

    Image via Army Medicine/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Teen Mom 3 castEver since MTV announced it had greenlighted a third spin-off from its popular 16 & Pregnant reality series, anticipation has been high for Teen Mom 3. It's been almost a full year since the network let slip which girls had made the cast, and now here we are: the show's premiere is just a few days away.

    So what are we going to see when Briana DeJesus, Katie Yeager, Alex Sekella, and Mackenzie Douthit come together on-screen for the first time? The Stir got a sneak peek at the premiere episode.

    Like Teen Mom and Teen Mom 2, the episode shifts between the four girls, tracking their relationships, jobs, and how they deal with their babies. There's drama -- plenty of it -- but there's one thing striking about all four girls.

    None of them is like any of the other teenagers we've seen on the show so far. There's certainly no Jenelle Evans-type, no girl dropping her child on her mom and running out to party. Nor is there an Amber Portwood-type, no girl who seems hell-bent on blaming her problems on anyone but her.

    More From The Stir: Alex Sekella Has No Plans to Act 'Stupid' -- Sorry, Jenelle Fans!

    But there is one thing that's definitely the same: the teenage boys on Teen Mom 3 are every bit as troublesome as the teenage boys we've seen on previous episodes, perhaps more so. From Alex's boyfriend Matt McCann, who's fresh out of rehab but still seems perpetually stoned, to Katie's boyfriend Joey Maes, who gets into an accident with her car but can't be bothered to get the other driver's insurance info (even though it's his own aunt!), the daddies of Teen Mom 3 are all extremely immature ... and they're not afraid to show it on camera.

    No matter how good these girls try to be, these boys are sure to make this a dramatic season of Teen Mom.

    Teen Mom 3 premieres on Monday, August 26, at 10 p.m. Check out the trailer:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    Who do you watch the shows for? The girls or the boys?

     

    Image via MTV


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    dead dad Tony YahleIf you're the type to get goosebumps, prepare for some bumpy flesh in 5, 4, 3, 2 ... doctors in Ohio have a bona fide miracle on their hands in the form of Tony Yahle. The dad was dead for 45 minutes. He had no heartbeat. And then suddenly, he came back to life.

    How does that kind of thing happen? Well doctors can't really figure it out, but get this. Dad came to just after his teenage son talked to his body. Lawrence Yahle told his father, "Dad, you're not going to die today."

    Could it be a father's love for his kid that brought him back?

    I'm usually pretty suspicious about these sort of miracles, but I can't help it: it sounds so good, I want it to be true.

    And why not? Just this week the story of a mom in a coma crying after a NICU nurse placed her baby in her arms went viral. The nurse thinks the mom, despite the coma, really knew that her baby was in her arms, that a mother's love was stronger than a coma.

    So why not a father's love?

    It's every bit as strong as a mother's.

    And of all the reasons sick people "fight" to stay alive, being there for their kids is certainly near the top of the list.

    Maybe doctors will find some other, more scientific reasons, to explain how the presumed-dead diesel mechanic came back after 45 minutes with no heartbeat. But I almost hope they don't. The story is so much more beautiful this way.

    Check out Tony Yahle today:

    What do you think of this miracle?

     

    Image via WPTV


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    cemeteryThis might just be the craziest story you will read this week. A woman named Sharolyn Jackson died and was buried in a Philadelphia cemetery. At least that's what everyone -- her family and the police -- thought. Turns out the wrong woman was buried! Sharolyn Jackson is alive!

    Good news! Well, sort of.

    According to police, Jackson's family reported the 50-year-old missing on July 18. Then on July 20, a body of a woman around her age was found, dead of natural causes.

    Jackson's son and a social worker who knows her were both called in to identify the body, and they said it was her. So things proceeded. An obituary was issued. A funeral was held.

    Her family mourned.

    And then, suddenly, nearly two weeks after the funeral services, a miracle! Sharolyn Jackson was found in a mental facility ... very much alive! 

    The Jacksons have to be over the moon, but can you imagine? You identify a body as Mom and, um, well, it's not Mom.

    How do you wrap your hand around that?

    And what about the family of the woman who has been lying underground for two weeks? Right now the authorities have no clue who she is, but it's kind of hard to celebrate when your gain is someone else's loss.

    Sure, your mom is OK, but who knows who this other woman has left behind ... and they haven't even had the comfort of being able to say goodbye to their loved one.

    Talk about a mixed blessing!

    What do you make of this crazy story?

     

    Image via Loco Steve/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    weightWe adults spend a lot of time editing our life stories for our kids, making them child-friendly. Honesty is one thing, but kids don't need to know everything. And when it comes to little girls, they certainly don't need to hear their moms talking about weight issues.

    Just about every study out there will tell you that's a surefire way to raise a daughter with an eating disorder. But how much editing should we really do? One expert says our daughters should hear absolutely nothing about weight matters, nothing about diets, nothing at all.

    And yet, I'm going to tell my daughter about my eating disorder.

    Not today. Not tomorrow. Probably not for awhile, in fact, but it will happen sooner rather than later.

    Because I disagree with Dr. Leslie Sim, clinical director of Mayo Clinic's eating disorders program and a child psychologist, when she says that the answer to raising a healthy daughter is:

    Zero talk about dieting, zero talk about weight.

    Never acknowledging the elephant in the room can be just as dangerous as moaning about your weight.

    Take it from me, a recovering bulimic whose parents never mentioned the long hours I'd spend in the bathroom, the retching noises. Maybe they never noticed; I don't know. 

    But they also never talked about eating disorders with me, never warned me against them. I won't make that mistake with my daughter.

    More From The Stir: 7 Truths About Eating Disorders Every Parent Needs to Know

    She needs to know that she is beautiful and that her body is perfect. She needs to know about eating healthy foods and exercising. But she also needs to know the truth about eating disorders.

    Because she will hear about them. I did. I had friends with whom I bonded in no small part because we shared a secret -- we threw up our meals. We would exchange tips about throwing up. And although I was smart enough to know I probably shouldn't be doing it, there was no one telling me why, no one with any authority presenting a convincing argument against bulimia.

    This is my duty to my daughter: to prevent her from making the mistakes I made as a kid, to be the voice of reason on all matters rather than letting her take another kid's advice (because we all remember getting some particularly bad advice on the school bus, don't we?).

    We talk about other issues with our kids, other things they shouldn't do. We warn them against the dangers of drugs and alcohol, warn them not to smoke cigarettes or ride in a car without a seatbelt. And we start it all pretty young. Thanks to an uncle who smokes, my daughter was getting the "no cancer sticks" talk when she was a mere toddler.

    So why not talk to her about eating disorders? Because they relate to weight, and weight is a no-no?

    Unfortunately, weight exists, and kids talk about it.

    And at times in a girl's life, your weight changes. You want to know why, you want reassurance. You want to know what to do about it -- if you have to do anything. 

    Right now my daughter is 8, all slim hips and non-existent thighs. But she's getting so close to puberty, that I went out and bought her one of those books on a girl's changing body to prepare her for what will happen -- for acne and body odor, for her period.

    I don't want her to be alarmed or scared. I don't want her making poor choices -- such as skipping the deodorant or pretending that blood isn't real, mistakes that are easy to make when you're a kid who doesn't understand why these things are happening and just wants to go back to the way things were. Nor do I want her to feel bad about the weight that often packs on as you gain hips and breasts, to do something drastic to try to reverse it.

    This is why I'll talk to my daughter about my eating disorder. So she knows that it's the wrong choice but also so that she knows she's not alone as her body changes.

    How do you talk to your daughters about weight? Do you have a 0 weight talk policy or do you talk about some things?

     

    Image by Jeanne Sager


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Demetries Thorpe
    The search for missing Illinois baby Joshua Summeries is over, but the news is not good. The baby may never be found, but police do know the little boy is dead. Cops say his mother's boyfriend confessed that he killed the baby for crying last week.

    Demetries Thorpe has been arrested and charged with murder for allegedly suffocating the 5-month-old before stuffing his body in a backpack and dumping the package in a dumpster. Thorpe allegedly told Joshua's mother the baby was kidnapped, prompting a search of the neighborhood that led police to a local landfill.

    They searched that landfill for four days with no luck.

    Joshua's body is out there.

    Somewhere.

    But it may never be found.

    Thorpe's confession may be enough for police to put him behind bars for a good long time, even without a body, but what about little Joshua? What about his mother? His father? Their grief?

    It isn't the fault of the police. They say they did whatever was "humanly possible" to try to find Joshua. They combed that landfill with people, with rakes, with every resource they had, and they came up with nothing.

    The best they can do is take his killer and throw him in jail.

    What kind of monster kills a child? What kind of monster dumps a child in a Dumpster? What kind of monster delivers this sort of tragedy on a family?

    It's hard to say what's more frustrating -- that the little boy died at the hands of someone his mother trusted, someone who should have cared for him or that he will never get a fitting funeral, that his family may never have true closure.

    What do you think should happen to Demetries Thorpe?

     

    Image via police


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    naked breastfeeding yoga momBy now you've probably seen the photo of "Naked Yoga Breastfeeding Mom," aka Daughter of the Sun blogger Amy Woodruff and her daughter Naia. The picture of mom doing a headstand while baby suckles at the breast has gone viral. It's everywhere. Everywhere, that is, except Instagram.

    Welcome to the new battleground for breastfeeding rights. First it was Facebook. Now Instagram has begun banning moms for daring to share their proud nursing moments.

    Amy Woodruff's Instagram account was suddenly suspended late last week, just as the whole world was really getting hip to how cool her viral photo was (it wasn't a set-up ... it happened naturally!). According to the Huffington Post, the photo website explained the suspension happened because:

    We followed our usual protocol on this occasion and took action on content that broke our community guidelines.

    It's not the first time a breastfeeding photo has caused a rumpus on Instagram. The Leaky Boob also had its account suspended for similar content earlier this year. They were reinstated, something Woodruff hopes will happen for her as well.

    What's troubling is why this is happening. What about a woman breastfeeding is such a problem for a site like Instagram?

    Is it because of the root word, "breast?"

    Should we just label 'em all nursing from here on out, so no one has to get icked out by the technical term?

    Yes, that is sarcasm.

    I know full well that the problem isn't the word. If only it were that simple.

    As if the site of a breast -- in the midst of being suckled by a youngster -- is the worst thing anyone might run across?

    Like the similarly anti-breastfeeding Facebook (which owns the photo site), Instagram does little to police the inappropriate photos put up daily by teenagers -- from beer can pyramids to scantily clad tweens to outright threats (one mom I know tried to get Instagram to take down a photo that listed her daughter's home address and urged people to go beat the girl up ... the site refused to do so without a police report).

    What message does that send to breastfeeding moms? That we're more dangerous, more inappropriate than cyberbullies and underage drinking?

    With bans like these, that's the message society is being sent -- it's OK for a 14-year-old to drink a case of beer and brag about it on the Internet, but OMG, don't you DARE feed your child with your boobies!

    And we wonder why the breast vs. formula wars continue? Why mothers still feel like they have to defend their means of feeding their children? We're being put up against true societal problems and cast as the villains!

    What do you think of the photo? Is this inappropriate content?

     

    Image via Daughter of the Sun


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    little girl in poolWhen my daughter was born, my biggest fear in life changed. It became, as it does for most parents, the fear that something would happen to my daughter. But until this weekend, I didn't know what that really meant.

    I almost died this weekend. That's not hyperbole. I was underwater, struggling to come to the surface and screaming for help, and I thought it was all over. I thought I was going to die. I thought my daughter was going to die.

    It was the scariest experience of my life. Scarier than any of the car accidents I've been in, serious car accidents that pre-date motherhood.

    They were dangerous, even life-threatening. But the fear that coursed through my veins as my car tumbled down a river bank with me inside cannot compare to the fear of clutching at my daughter as we both went underwater.

    This was scarier because the little life I carried in my stomach for 9 months, the life I cradled in my arms, the life I've cuddled and kissed and watched grow over the past 8 years was slipping away from me.

    Let me back up. It was a pool party, and my daughter had brought along her life vest. I made her wear it. Of course I did. That's what moms do.

    But the wet vest had begun to chafe her delicate skin. When it was time to reapply her sunscreen, I found angry red rashes on her cheeks and arms. So I let her take it off, opting to get into the pool with her to keep her safe.

    When she asked to go down the water slide, I said "sure." She'd done it at least a dozen times already during the party with no problem. Why not this time?

    But when she hit the water behind me, rather than in my arms, she began to panic. She wasn't used to hitting the water without the life vest there to push her back up. It took me no more than a second to grab her, but by the time I did, she was already in full flail, pushing at my body in a desperate attempt to surface.

    I brought her up, but it was at a cost to myself -- she kept pushing me down, even as I yelled for her to stop pushing, to just calm down, I had her. It wasn't her fault. Panic happens to the best of us.

    Still, unable to get my footing in the deep pool, I was no match for her desperation. As I began to sink, I screamed for help, still clinging to my daughter, refusing to let her go. 

    I could have surfaced if I'd let her go, but that wasn't an option. A mom doesn't let her child go under.

    I screamed with what breath I had left, still holding tight.

    Fortunately, there were other adults in the pool. My friend's brother and his partner swooped in. One grabbed my daughter, the other shoved a boogie board into my hands, and when I couldn't get on it, helped pull me up.

    They saved my life. More importantly, they saved my daughter's life.

    How do you repay that?

    I've been thinking on it since Saturday, replaying the moments over and over again, the scent of chlorine filling my nostrils, the sound of the water again in my ears. I'm overwhelmed by feelings of failure, of stupidity, of helplessness.

    Before Saturday, I thought I knew what love was. Today, I'm sure I do.

    This must be it, to feel that your life matters less than your child's; that your scariest experience is no longer a threat against your own life but one against your child.

    I do everything most mothers do to protect my child. I teach her to look both ways before she crosses the road -- and still hold her hand just in case. I apply sunscreen and make sure there's a responsible adult around when she's in a pool.

    But my daughter almost died on my watch, and it scared the very loving hell out of me.

    Technically, I almost died too. I get that. That hasn't left my mind, but that's not what has made this whole experience so hard to shake. I'm consumed by just how close I came to losing her, and how powerless I was at that moment.

    Bring on the hurricanes. The earthquakes. The terrible tornadoes. Nothing could be scarier than what I have already been through. I have faced my biggest fear.

    What is the scariest thing that's ever happened in your life? Has motherhood changed what you consider "scary?"

     

    Image by Jeanne Sager


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    cartwheel in the rainComplaining about your teenager is a rite of passage for parents. They can be absolutely maddening what with the door slamming and the eye rolling and that infernal racket pouring out of their earbuds. But sometimes I wonder if the ladies (and gentleman) doth protest too much.

    Are teenagers really that bad? Or could it be that moms are a wee bit jealous of their teenagers?

    My kid isn't there yet -- she's 8 -- but I have a teenage babysitter who spends enough time at my house that she's practically a second daughter. I'll admit it ... there are times I am pea green with envy.

    Don't think this is you? Perhaps this will change your mind ...

    Behold the things teens do that moms only WISH we could:

    1. Browsing at the mall. It's easy to get annoyed by that gaggle of giggling girls that takes up the entire line of changing room stalls in the Gap ... the girls you know probably aren't going to actually buy anything. But ohhhhh, to have the time to spend trying on 10 different outfits ... and the luxury to go in a changing room without a toddler hanging off of you!

    2. Wearing a bikini. It's not that moms can't wear bikinis. Some women can really rock a two piece after kids. It's that teenagers can wear them without anyone commenting on whether they're too old for said piece of swimwear.

    3. Blasting music in the car. Go ahead, roll your eyes at the kids bumping one lane over at the red light. But if you're really honest with yourself, you still remember the amazing feeling of driving down the road with the windows open, the music blaring, while you and your friends sang along at the top of your lungs. 

    4. Sleeping until noon. It's easy to call a kid lazy for snoozing away the day, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't long for the lie in most mornings.

    5. Doing cartwheels (or anything similar). Some moms still have the agility of a cat. The rest of us buy ibuproferen in bulk.

    6. Believing money would magically appear. Most kids seem to believe money grows on trees. What I wouldn't give to return a time when life was that simple ...

    7. Riding rollercoasters, taking flights, etc. without fear. Teens take risks that scare the crap out of their parents, but it sure would be nice to revisit those fearless days ... when you were completely invincible. Sigh.

    8. Eating junk for dinner without a care in the world. Imagine no little voice in the back of your head telling you that it's wrong to make a meal of Diet Pepsi and Skittles.

    9. Expecting maid service. Yes, it is frustrating feeling like your kids still expect you to do everything for them. But wouldn't it be nice to have someone do everything for YOU?

    What teenager things do you kinda sorta wish you could still do?

     

    Image via Roberto Trm/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Medal of Honor winner Ty CarterA lot is being made over Ty Carter today, and rightfully so. Army Staff Sgt. Carter is being presented with the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama this week. He's only the fifth living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.

    Carter is a true American hero, a man who has already collected eight other medals -- including the purple heart. But if there's one story that really sums up who the man receiving the nation's highest military honor is, it's the way he learned that he would be awarded the Medal of Honor.

    The story -- as told to the Stars and Stripes -- goes that Carter was on a family vacation, a trip to Crater Lake that he'd promised to his wife and kids. He'd been ordered to take a detour, to stay within cellphone range. And so it is that a man the nation owes a debt of gratitude learned he would be receiving the country's highest award while he:

    sat on the back of his camper, parked near a gas station in the remote Oregon woods, with his two dogs asleep and his kids arguing and his wife feeding the baby.

    It sounds so ... normal, doesn't it?

    He sound like any dad in America.

    Perhaps that is because Ty Carter IS like any dad in America.

    He's a heroic dad, a dad who, faced faced death multiple times to assist comrades during a firefight with Taliban insurgents in October 2009 when Combat Outpost Keating was ambushed. Two dozen men were injured and eight died during that fight, making it one of the deadliest battles for Americans in the Afghan war.

    But still, Ty Carter is a dad. An American guy who takes a camper on vacation with his wife, kids, and dogs.

    That doesn't negate his heroism. If anything, it only serves to ? what a hero he is. Ty Carter had more than just his own life on the line that day in 2009. He was a husband, a father, a breadwinner out there on the frontlines.

    It's easy to conflate the images of these action movie "heroes" with the heroism of everyday men and women in the military. Easy, but misleading.

    America's heroes are not the Vin Diesel or Arnold Schwarzenegger types.

    They're regular men and women, ordinary folks like Ty Carter who, when push comes to shove, rise to extraordinary.

     

    Image via US Army


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Maci BookoutWe are closer than close to the announcement of the official Dancing With the Stars cast line-up for fall 2013 and the rumors are running rampant. One of the loudest? That a Teen Mom star will cross over from MTV to swing her hips on ABC.

    When The Stir talked to Maci Bookout recently about her TV special Being Maci, she took the chance to explain why she's ready for the show!

    First .. the bad news. According to Maci, she didn't make the cut ... no one has even reached out! But that doesn't mean she wouldn't be up for it. According to the Teen Mom:

    I've never spoken with anyone about doing Dancing With the Stars. I would love to; I think it would be a great experience.

    And she's already prepared! Said Maci:

    Right now I'm actually rehearsing for the past three months for a charity event in Chattanooga that is very very similar to Dancing with the Stars but it's not televised. It's a live event downtown and it's for the Kidney Foundation of Greater Chattanooga.

    More From The Stir: Maci Bookout Reveals Her Single Mom Secrets

    They basically just take people that are well known in our community -- as far as news people or radio DJs or people that are just very well known around here -- and they pair us up with a professional dancer and then we do two dances the night of the event. All the proceeds go to the Kidney Foundation.

    It's one of the biggest charity events that our town holds, and it's pretty serious.

    I've been rehearsing for three months, and the event is actually a month away.

    It's been a lot of fun, but dancing is so much harder than everyone thinks!

    ***

    Want to help Maci raise money? You can sponsor her with a donation to the Kidney Foundation! The dance will be held on September 14.

    Would you watch her on Dancing With the Stars?

     

    Image via Instagram


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Teen Mom 3 Alex SekellaThe tagline for Teen Mom 3 may be "Mondays are a mother," but the premiere of the new show gave us a whole lot of daddy drama. The fathers of Katie Yeager's, Briana DeJesus's, Alex Sekella's, and Mackenzie Douthit's babies are all in their lives in varying degrees. And they're all creating trouble.

    The worst of them just might be Matt McCann, father to Alex's daughter Arabella. Fresh out of rehab for drug addiction, Matt has popped back into his girlfriend's life and moved into her mom's home. But while Alex is working three jobs to make ends meet, and trying to get her diploma online, he can barely clean up his own dishes after eating.

    Even Matt himself admits that rehab wasn't enough to change him, and it's obvious when he convinces Alex to hit up his old haunts where he used to buy drugs. He's obviously excited to see drug dealers all around them, even saying he's more comfortable out there in the bad part of town than he is at her house.

    Although you never see him actually buying, he seems shifty when explaining to Alex what he spent money on in a store while she waited in the car.

    Whether he was buying or not, he clearly doesn't have her or their daughter's best interests at heart. Worse, there is a clear mistrust issue going on for these two, and that is not good for a mom who is trying to raise her child.

    More From The Stir: Alex Sekella Has No Plans to Act 'Stupid' -- Sorry, Jenelle Fans!

    It's nice that Alex's mom is willing to give Matt a chance and let him live with them, but they need to get rid of him! Fast!

    Not that Matt is the only one screwing up. Katie's boyfriend Joey Maes got into an accident in her car on tonight's episode, and then he left the scene! Although it seems like he wasn't at fault, Katie can't get him to call the other driver -- his aunt -- so she has to take matters into her own hands, calling the cops. Turns out Joey came thisclose to getting a ticket for leaving the scene.

    Then there's Devoin Austin, Briana's ex, who took to Twitter with a series of rants. He calls her a whore and a slut. The mother of his child!

    Josh McKee is the only baby daddy who doesn't seem like a total loser on this show, although he reminds me a lot of Maci Bookout's (now) ex-boyfriend Ryan Edwards -- at least the way he acted back in the day. He doesn't seem like a bad guy so much as a little confused about what the heck he's supposed to be doing with his girlfriend and son.

    What should Alex do with Matt? Should he stay in the house?

     

    Image via MTV


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Katie Yeager Teen Mom 3Teen Mom 3 aired its premiere episode on MTV this week, and its cast are officially on their way to being household names. Destined to be a crowd favorite is Katie Yeager, the driven high school senior who was forced to give up her dreams of heading to college with her best friend when she became pregnant with daughter Molli.

    MTV clearly picked the Teen Mom 3 carefully in an attempt to avoid scandals of the type Amber Portwood and Jenelle Evans have brought to the network. Katie explained her reason for being on the show in an exclusive interview with The Stir, and spilled on whether she has regrets about what fans will see on Teen Mom:

    On why she decided to join the cast:

    When I'd gotten the call, I'd read an article about the 16 & Pregnant effect, about how it's actually helping and how it's actually making a difference.

    Then I spoke with my mother about it, just really had a heart to heart and sit-down. You only have so many chances in the world to truly make a difference and actually kind of selflessly help someone, and that's why I wanted to do it. So why not take the chance of doing that? Doing something that's completely not for you, for people who are strangers? 

    Whatever they take away from my story, Briana's story, Alex's story, hopefully it helps.

    On how she handles the critics:

    If you don't know me personally, I'm not going to take anything you say personally. People are going to take whatever opinion they have and go with it, and that's your opinion and not everybody's going to like you, but my focus is on what I need to be doing that's best for my daughter. Everything else is just life.

    On comparisons to other cast members:

    I don't think any of us can really be categorized as any of those girls. They lived different lives from us and they're different people. I feel like we bring different spice to the mix. We're kind of fresh faces.

    More From The Stir: 'Teen Mom' Star's Breastfeeding Experience Brings Her to Tears

    We're all different girls; we're all from completely different parts of the country. We are as different as we can be from one another, all kind of in the same situation, and it's kind of cool to see how 12 different girls from 12 different parts of the world handle the same situation.

    On her relationship with Maci Bookout:

    Seeing somebody that's going through the same thing that we're just starting out -- she's been doing it for four years -- it's kind of like you cherish her advice.

    I definitely appreciate any of the advice that any of the girls have to share with us because they know more than us what it's like dealing with this. A lot of the girls handle it with grace. Maci takes a lot of criticism, she takes a lot of stuff, and she's a strong person.

    One of the things I took away was when she said, "I'm reading these comments and thinking why would anyone take the time to write this about me?" Then she was like ... but I'm wasting my time reading it and responding it? Why would I take my time to respond to that?

    That's one thing that I definitely took with me and kept in the back of my mind. Do what Maci does; just don't respond, don't waste your time because you have other things that you need to be worried about.

    We really respect her.

    I respect all the girls and I feel that everybody has a different thing to take out of everybody's story, see how everybody handles things.

    On regrets from the show:

    Looking back, I understand my reasoning for doing everything that I did. There's some things I wish I kind of would have handled differently, but it's made me who I am today and I wouldn't change that for the world. I feel like I'm in a good place right now. 

    On moving out of Wyoming (where Teen Mom 3 was shot), away from her family to Salt Lake City:

    I have a hard time taking help from people. That's my biggest downfall, I think. I have a hard time accepting help.

    I learned my strong will from somebody, and it's definitely from my mom. Living away from her, I miss her, and I miss having her around, and Molli misses having her around, but I talk to her, I feel like more about things. I'm way more open with her about things now that I'm on my own, I'm independent, and I'm comfortable.

    It meant so much to me to hear that my mom is proud of me because that's the only woman and the only person I want to impress. My daughter and my mom.

    Did you catch Katie on Teen Mom 3's premiere? What do you think of this feisty teen?

     

    Image by Jeanne Sager


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Johnathan CroomThere is sad news out of Oregon this week. Johnathan Croom, the Arizona teenager reported missing by his family, has been found dead, just 1,000 feet from where his car was discovered, abandoned last week in the woods of Southern Oregon. He should be in college now, but instead he's dead. And all anyone wants to talk about is the 18-year-old's alleged obsession with Christopher McCandless, a young man whose journey to Alaska -- and death -- were documented in the book Into the Wild.

    Croom's death is being investigated by Oregon police as a possible suicide, which makes the focus on the book especially frustrating. So what if he read a book about a guy who went off into the wilderness, eschewing society and dying because of it? Is this where we should be focusing? The books he read before his death?

    Quick answer: no.

    Books don't cause suicide. Movies (there's also a film version of Into the Wild) do not cause suicide.

    Suicide is not a "normal" response to stressors, be it media or something that happens in the home. To indicate such, as is being done in every single report I've read today on Johnathan Croom, is overly simplistic and irresponsible. 

    The result is an unfortunate mix of trumped up fear -- quick, if your loved one is reading Into the Wild, get them some help! -- and misplaced focus.

    Here's the truth about suicide. In America, it is the seventh leading cause of death for males and the fifteenth leading cause of death for females. Suicide risk comes -- according to the scientists -- from changes in certain brain chemicals. According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have depression and other mental disorders, or a substance-abuse disorder (often in combination with other mental disorders).

    Got that? Not books. Not movies.

    Suicide is a problem with a person.

    If Johnathan Croom's death in the wilderness of Oregon is indeed suicide, it speaks to his own mindset and his own problems. It speaks to tragedy and to a life destroyed before it had even really begun.

    This death is tragic, no doubt about it. It's something folks in America should be talking about -- if only because talking about suicide is one way to spread awareness of the options (such as the suicide hotline) out there for helping people who are at risk.

    But in order to do that, we need to stop grasping at straws to find "reasons" for suicide and get down to the nitty gritty. Suicide is never, ever the answer, and it is never, ever the "normal" response.

    If the words someone is using indicate they may be considering suicide, or if you yourself have wrestled with the idea, please reach out to a suicide hotline. There is ALWAYS someone there who wants to listen and who will take you seriously. You can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

     

    Image via police


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    cheerleadersCan we talk about high school sports uniforms for a second? Specifically the uniforms for teenage girls? A community in Florida is in a tizzy at the moment after the school banned cheerleaders from wearing their uniforms to class -- because they don't meet the dress code.

    Turns out it's perfectly OK for the girls to shake their hind ends in the short skirts and sleeveless tops in front of fans at a Countryside High School football game, but the school has put the kibosh on actually letting them into class.

    Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

    If it ain't good enough for the classroom, why are you letting the kids wear it at a school function? More to the point, why is this the outfit you are providing?

    For years I worked as a reporter on the sidelines of high school sporting events. The dichotomy between the uniforms for female athletes and male athletes was striking.

    Girls' outfits were always form fitting, always revealing. Boys' outfits were sometimes form fitting (generally wrestling and cross country) but not always, and very rarely did they reveal much more than one would expect to see in a classroom.

    Often as I set up my camera to take photos of teams, I would notice girls -- generally girls who weren't stick thin, although not necessarily obese by any means -- uncomfortably yanking down skimpy shorts to try to cover more thigh or trying to adjust impossibly short skirts.

    It always bothered me, the photographer. Now it bothers me, the mom. My daughter is currently in youth soccer, where uniforms are unisex. Over-sized shorts and ballooning t-shirts are just the name of the game.

    But my memory of my own awkwardness as a teenage girl, my discomfort with my body (and eventual plunge into the world of eating disorders), makes me fear the day she may decide to take on a high school sport and be forced to put her body on display because, well, she's a girl and that's how it works for female athletes in high school.

    This is my own personal battle, I'll admit, but it dovetails with the case in Pinellas County, Florida quite well, doesn't it?

    Here we have a school where the girls seem to be OK with their cheerleading uniforms, proud of them even. They want to wear them to class to show their school pride -- much as teen athletes do in many schools across the country. But the uniform isn't "appropriate," at least not according to this high school's dress code.

    Hello, McFly!

    Parents are calling for the school to give these girls a break on the dress code, but the answer seems to be the very opposite.

    It isn't the dress code that's the problem. It's the uniform.

    Do we really need cheerleading uniforms that can't pass muster with a basic school dress code? Do we really need to put girls who are already dealing with the myriad issues of puberty in outfits like this?

    I recognize that athletic uniforms can only be so loose -- for safety's sake -- but if a skirt is so short that it isn't allowed in the classroom, then it is probably a little too revealing. And if it's a little too revealing, why are you forcing girls to wear it? What message are you sending those girls? And what about the girls you're keeping out of sports -- girls who could probably use a safe and positive means of weight control like exercise -- because of uniforms that are made only for the stick thin?

    What do you make of this situation? Should teenage girls be wearing athletic uniforms that don't meet the dress code? Would you let YOUR daughter wear a uniform that she couldn't wear to class?

     

    Image via Dunlap23/Flickr


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    Miley Cyrus VMAsRut-ro. Miley Cyrus has gone and done it! Her raunchy VMAs performance has set the mommies' tongues a clucking!

    Did you see her gyrating and twerking up there? Did you see her rip off that sexy teddy bear onesie and reveal her so pale they blended right into her skin undies? Did you see her letting Robin Thicke perform fake anal right out there in the middle of everything?

    What are our kids supposed to think?

    Well, how about nothing?

    My 8-year-old is a Miley Cyrus fan. She danced to "Party in the USA" at her pre-school graduation, and she's seen her fair share of Hannah Montana episodes. Today I asked her what she thinks about Miley, and she said, quite simply, "She's cool. I love singing her music!"

    She didn't, however, have an opinion about Miley's VMAs gyrations, for one simple reason: she didn't see it -- or any of the VMAs for that matter.

    She didn't watch because she was in bed -- school starts soon, and we've reinstituted 8 p.m. bedtime to ready for early rising. She didn't watch because it was the MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS. It wasn't a show for kids. And when I myself finally pulled up videos of Miley letting it all hang out (I skipped the VMAs to catch up on Breaking Bad), I made sure she was in another room before I hit play. 

    She can like Miley's songs, even like some of Miley's (kid-appropriate) acting. But it's not up to Miley to protect my kid from Miley acting out.

    It's up to me.

    So I have to ask: what is all the fuss about?

    Did Miley act like an idiot up there on that stage? Sure. But then, she also acted a lot like a 20-year-old who is still figuring out who she is; a 20-year-old who has had to endure the judgment of an entire nation as she's transitioned from sweet little kid to teenager to young adult.

    Miley Cyrus has not had it easy with the pressure of growing up in the spotlight. Do we really need to add "being a role model to our kids" onto her heavy burden?

    Is that really her job?

    I don't think so. It's no more her job to raise my kid and do right by my kid than it is Alex Rodriguez' job to stay off steroids so that my kid's love of baseball remains untainted, or any other celebrity's job to live a stained life just so my kid never has to learn that there are bad people and bad things in this world. 

    That's why kids have parents. We're here to shield them from the bad things out there, to introduce those issues in kid-appropriate ways, to pick and choose what they learn about and when.

    So to all the parents demanding Miley Cyrus' head on a platter, I have to ask: where were you when your kid was watching Miley grind on a foam finger? Why weren't YOU protecting your kid?

    Do you really believe Miley Cyrus owes parents an apology here?

     

    Image via Getty/MTV


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Gary Shirley Teen MomSome happy news from Teen Mom land! 'Memba Gary Shirley, co-dependent boyfriend of one Amber Portwood and father of little Leah Shirley?

    This single dad has gone and gotten himself a new girlfriend! Aww!

    According to a recent tweet from Gary:

    Quality time with the Gf & Leah watching the Christmas shoes

    Good for Gare Bear! And may we say it's about darn time?

    Amber went to prison -- wait for it -- more than a year ago. Since then, Gary has been essentially a single dude raising his daughter. He has every right to move on (no matter what Jenelle Evans thinks).

    More than that, he NEEDS to move on.

    More From The Stir: Catelynn & Tyler Need Another TV Show Stat

    The Amber/Gary relationship was a classic example of the victim sticking by their abuser at all costs. She'd hit him, and he'd come back for more. This isn't to say that he was perfect -- he did his fair share of baiting her temper -- but the point is theirs was not a healthy relationship.

    Now that Amber is in prison, rebuilding her life, Gary has been given the perfect opportunity to break free of the vicious cycle. Building a healthy relationship should be a lot easier without Amber's constant intrusions into his life, and when she gets out -- that will be better for both of them, not to mention better for little Leah.

    What do you make of this news? Do you think Amber will be happy for Gary?

     

    Image via MTV


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Brooke BennettIt's good news when a murder suspect is caught, right? When the police put the pieces of the puzzle together and haul in a guy like Michael Jacques, the uncle from Vermont who just admitted he kidnapped, raped, and killed his 12-year-old niece, Brooke Bennett?

    Jacques just copped a plea deal for the awful crime -- the first to result in an Amber Alert for the State of Vermont. He's expected to spend life in prison without parole, but he'll avoid the death penalty for cooperating.

    Well, sort of cooperating. It's been five years since Jacques was first hauled into a courtroom, five years since little Brooke was murdered, five years that her parents have had to wait for this day.

    So much for swift justice.

    Granted, Jacques initially pleaded not guilty in the case, claiming that he had nothing to do with Brooke's June 25, 2008, disappearance from a convenience store. Our justice system, as its built, gives time for a suspect to present a case for their defense.

    But it seems Jacques, a registered sex offender, was just playing games, stringing the courts along as his lawyers debated the legality of threatening him with the death penalty. For five years, he waited ... until just this week, as his trial was supposed to start, agreeing to the plea deal. He confessed that he used a 14-year-old girl (who he was sexually abusing) to lure his 12-year-old niece (Jacques was once married to the sister of Brooke's mother, Cassandra Adams) to a pool party at his house and then sexually assaulted her and killed her. Brooke's body was found in a grave not far from her uncle's home about a week after her disappearance. 

    Jacques was arrested shortly thereafter.

    But as the five-year span since that arrest until this week's guilty plea shows, that was hardly worth the celebration that one would expect from a suspect's arrest.

    It didn't give Brooke's parents answers, bring Brooke justice, not for five long, long years. Jacques got to put up his defense, but what did they get?

    Even now, Jim Bennett and Cassandra Adams are said to be unhappy with the plea deal that will spare their daughter's killer from the death penalty. Of course ... nothing can give them their daughter back.

    But the man who did this to them got five extra years to torture them ...

    Do you think it takes too long for cases to go to trial? Is this fair to the victims?

     

    Image via Amber Alert


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    momDo you remember the first moment you "felt" like a mom? Back when I was pregnant, I thought that giving birth would be that moment for me. It makes sense, right? When the baby comes out of you, you ARE a mom. So you must FEEL like a mom!

    But I didn't. I was so caught up in watching what the nurses were doing with my daughter across the room that I didn't have that "eureka" moment. I wouldn't have it for a few hours, actually, until the first time I used the words "my daughter."

    And then ... I just ... felt it, felt a sort of euphoria rise up from the tips of my toes. It was real! I was a mom!

    Turns out I'm not the only one to find that the "I'm a mom" feeling comes not at the moment of birth, but at times that are completely unexpected.

    The Stir asked moms to share their magical mom moment, and their answers were at times heartwarming and at times hilarious:

    1. Probably the first time my son peed on me and I didn't bother to change my shirt! Although the older I get, the more "mom" I feel lately. I even feel like the bags under my eyes signify some rite of passage.

    2. There was one the night she was born when I realized the primary job in my life was going to be raising this little person, and I just knew in my bones I would do anything for her for as long as I lived.

    3. When I changed a diaper and I actually loved it because it was my child and not someone else's.

    4. Giving her a bath for the first time -- I felt like it was the greatest accomplishment of my life. She was so tiny and fragile and I held her very life in my hands, and if she didn't drown, I had done something right!

    5. The first night in the hospital. Exhausted, overwhelmed, and overjoyed, sitting in the dark by myself, I realized that I was the one responsible for this little human being and my caring for him with everything I had was the only way he would survive this crazy thing we call life.

    6. The moment that her father left me pregnant and without a dime to my name, I knew I had to hold it together and grow up real fast for her. Every decision I have made in the past year and a half has been with her in mind and not taken lightly.

    7. I don't think it was honestly until after I went back to nursing school and had to learn how to juggle 100 different things ... at that point in time, I finally realized I was 100 percent responsible for their futures.

    8. One night I was burping my son, he was maybe a week old, he put his little hand on mine and relaxed his head on me. It hit me that this little person was mine and he was 100 percent dependent on me. It still amazes me to this day how effortless loving him is and how just this morning at 3 a.m. he decided it was time.

    9. I guess I'd have to say the first time I went out alone with my daughter.

    10. I always knew I was a mom and loved being one, but when it really kicked in was when my firstborn son was 3 months old and was choking, turning blue. It really hit home. It hit me that I have to always protect love and be there ... everything.

    11. The first time I can remember feeling like a mom was when I was pregnant with [my daughter], not even when she was born, but when I realized I loved her in my belly and I did not even know her.

    12. While in the hospital they came in to take [my daughter] for all the tests (hearing, vision, reflexes) at about 2 a.m. They told me to rest and they'd be back shortly. About 10 minutes later I went into panic mode like "where is my baby?!?!" I hauled my sore ass outta bed and wandered the hospital halls in the hospital nightgown and those grippy socks until I found the room she was in and then didn't leave until the nurse wheeled her back with me. I wouldn't let her out of my sight after that.

    What was YOUR "I'm a mom" moment?

     

    Image by Jeanne Sager


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    veteran and service dogA Massachusetts diner owner is looking like a Class A idiot right now. Over the weekend, an Iraqi war veteran named James Glaser showed up for breakfast with his service dog ... and got kicked out of the restaurant.

    According to Glaser, the owner of the Big I Diner refused to believe that his dog, Jack, is a true service dog, even when he explained he suffers from PTSD after more than 20 years in service to our country and showed off the pup's certification.

    And it gets worse.

    Glaser says Big I’s owner, Russell Ireland, mocked him for needing the support of a dog to eat breakfast. After telling him to "get that (expletive) fake service dog out of here," Ireland later said, "How much emotional support do you need when you are eating breakfast."

    Ireland has since apologized -- although predictably not until after the disabled veteran went public with his story and threatened to file a complaint under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

    The matter seems to be resolved ... at least for this one veteran.

    But America, let's just consider this your wake-up call.

    Not only are service dogs serious, but PTSD is not a laughing matter!

    The US Department of Veterans Affairs estimates as much as 20 out of every 100 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom) suffer from PTSD. That number rises to 30 percent of Vietnam vets. And no wonder -- a look at the statistics from Afghanistan and Iraq show as much as 97 percent of Marines report being shot at, 95 percent of folks in the Army report seeing dead bodies.

    Then consider this from the VA:

    VA data show that from 2002 to 2009, 1 million troops left active duty in Iraq or Afghanistan and became eligible for VA care. Of those troops, 46% came in for VA services. Of those Veterans who used VA care, 48% were diagnosed with a mental health problem.

    Those are big numbers. And for servicemen and women suffering with PTSD, it's a big problem.

    Some will struggle to hold down a job. Some will see their marriages disintegrate. Some will sink into alcohol or drugs.

    This is where treatment comes in, including the use of service dogs. James Glaser says Jack senses when he's panicking, and the dog is trained to wrap his little "arm" around his owner, comforting him. And yes, that can happen anytime ... even over breakfast.

    Instead of mocking people who have PTSD, instead of challenging them and the therapies available for them, perhaps it's time we as a country start learning about what is going on with our soldiers and how to HELP them ... instead of making life 10 times harder for them back home.

    Check out this vet and his service dog:

    Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

    Do you think it's fair for veterans like James to bring their dogs into restaurants?

     

    Image via Fox 25


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