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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

    Emylee LonczakA 16-year-old girl has been found, dead, just a week after her parents reported her missing. The parents of Emylee Lonczak thought their teenager had run away. But after Virginia authorities found her body in an affluent neighborhood, they've launched what has been labeled a criminal investigation.

    Wait. Back up a second. Affluent neighborhood?

    Isn't that code for "safe place to raise kids," aka "place where your 16-year-old isn't going to end up in the shrubbery between two homes"?

    According to the reports, this poor girl's body was discovered between fences that separated two million-dollar-plus houses in Vienna, Virginia, a place where the crime rates are extremely low.

    How Emylee Lonczak died or even when she died is still up in the air, but cops say they are "looking into any potential criminal acts that may be involved." Something clearly went horribly wrong between August 21, when her parents reported the 11th grader missing, and the discovery of her body on Friday.

    Living in a "good" neighborhood didn't stop that.

    Sadly, it rarely does -- no matter what the real estate agent will tell you when she's pushing you to buy that one house.

    Bad things happen to good people and in good places.

    I live in a sleepy little town where the teenagers complain that nothing ever happens (I should know, I was once ONE of them). My husband and I decided to raise our daughter here in part because it's a "safe" place to raise kids, a good place for kids to have a childhood.

    But stories like Emylee's drive home why we can't get too comfortable, why we always have to remind ourselves that it's not enough to pick a good neighborhood to keep your kid's safe.

    Even in our sleepy little town, we have murders. We have pedophiles. We have bank robberies. We have children who go missing and end up dead. It doesn't happen nearly as often as it does in a big city or even in small towns with higher crime rates, but still, it does happen. And it's every bit as devastating to families.

    My heart breaks for Emylee's family and for the entire community of Vienna. Hopefully the police can give them the answers they need to find closure.

    Do you find tragedies like this more shocking when they happen in "good" neighborhoods?


    Image via police

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    nameNaming a baby is not a job any parent should take lightly, and to their credit, most don't. But after days, weeks even of debating the right baby name, you can always count on SOMEBODY to take one look at your little darling and tell you how much they HATE the name you chose.

    Come to think of it, you're lucky if that's all they say. Opinions, as they say, are like butts (OK, so usually people use a slightly stronger word) ... and people turn into the latter when they voice their opinion about your baby name!

    Thinking about commenting on the moniker someone's chosen for their little one? How about striking these off your list:

    1. It's all right, I am sure we'll find a cute nickname for him.

    2. Huh. That sounds like a [insert racist term] name.

    3. Don't be surprised when she starts working the pole

    4. Why didn't you name them X?

    5. Well, that's different, isn't it?

    6. Aren't you afraid he's going to get picked on?

    7. Are you SURE you want to name him X? X are always troublemakers.

    8. You can still change it!

    9. Nice nickname, but what's the real name?

    10. You can't call her that, that's a boy's name (or vice versa).

    11. That's a sissy name.

    12. Arguing with a mom about the origin of a name (just because she named him Cullen doesn't mean she's a Twi-hard, folks).

    13. Well, I expected something strange from you.

    14. That's what we named our dog!

    22 Things not to say to a mom about her baby name15. That's nice, but we just really chose normal names that would beget normal children.

    16. Didn't you think about the awful nicknames she'll have (and then list them all)?

    17. Finally a normal name! But why did you spell it so funny?

    18. Laugh hysterically. 

    19. Telling the mom an awful story about a person with that name.

    20. That's so BORING.

    21. But he doesn't LOOK like an X.

    22. Oh, well I liked X better.

    Have you ever said anything on this list? What's the most asinine thing anyone has said about your baby's name?


    Image by Jeanne Sager

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    10 fun activities for working moms and their kidsMost of the time, I love being a working mom. I work because it puts food on our table (and in my daughter's belly), but also because I find it fulfilling. But a long day at work drains you. And then you come home to your child and still want to give them your all as a mother. 

    If you ever get the feeling that your quality time with your kiddo is being sucked away by the time you spend making dinner, doing laundry, and running the bathtub, join the club.

    And then stop worrying about it. There are plenty of ways to be a working mom and still stay connected with your child, even after a long day at work. Sometimes you just need to think a little out of the box:

    1. Family game night. Why do I feel like people used to do this all the time but no one does it anymore? Maybe it's more that people don't talk about it? Anyway! We started playing board games with our daughter during a power outage one night, and I realized just how much fun it was for all of us -- one of the rare things everyone in the house enjoyed doing.

    2. Plant something. Something as simple as growing a tomato plant together is not only educational, but gives you something to do together, from the actual planting to watering to weeding ... it's like the gift that keeps on giving.

    3. Play dinnertime games. You're already eating dinner anyway, so kill two birds with one stone -- try some mealtime games to spice up the conversation and get the kids giggling ... and talking about their day.

    4. Feed the birds. Set up a birdfeeder outside your window, and check it daily with your kids. This is an other educational idea, but it also gives you something to talk about, especially with kids who are hard to draw out after a long day of pre-school!

    5. Start a community service project. Teach your kids about giving back while you do something for the good of others too. It could be something simple that you can do in one night, such as visiting the local animal shelter on your drive home to drop off a bag of dog food, or you can plan something ongoing that you can do in dribs and drabs when you have time, such as clearing out their toybox to donate gently used items to the local domestic violence shelter.

    6. Color. Not exactly creative? Yeah, well when was the last time YOU sat down and colored in a coloring box instead of letting them do it all? It's actually very therapeutic, and if you're side-by-side, coloring in your own little books, you have a captive audience to talk to them about their day.

    7. Play car games. Do you pick the kids up and drive while staring straight ahead, just willing the traffic to disappear from in front of you so you can get home? Do you try asking them about their day and find it's like pulling teeth? Try playing the same car games you'd play on longer road trips -- it will get them laughing, and hopefully talking. If nothing else, they'll make the car rides memorable in the years to come.

    8. Scrapbook together. You know all those photos you have always meant to put in albums? Ask the kids to HELP you with it. Albums complete AND kid bonded with.

    9. Watching funny videos online. Laughter is the best medicine, right? So pull the kid on your lap, pull out your laptop, and get giggling. Even if it's just for 15 minutes.

    10. Teach them to cook. Don't let them being underfoot while you make dinner annoy the pants off of you. Put them to work! I realized recently how much fun my kid really is when she's got an apron on!

    What do you do after a long day at work to stay connected with your kids?


    Image by Jeanne Sager

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    welcome home mommyConfession. Whenever I'm feeling really down, I will pull up a military homecoming video. Daddies and little girls, mommies and sons ... these awesome welcomes for the people who are out there serving our country never fail to make me smile.

    Can anything top the look a little girl gets on her face when she hasn't seen her daddy in months? Or a little boy gets when he sees Mom after a year?

    The reunion of a child and a parent carries with it so much emotion and so much hope.

    I know I miss my daughter when I send her to school for a day or when I go on a business trip for a few. Now multiply that by weeks and months for servicemen and women and the families they leave behind.

    That's true sacrifice. 

    But as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder -- and the love that you can see on the faces of these returning heroes is only topped by the pure joy on the faces of their kids.

    Need a pick-me-up? How about checking out some of the most beautiful expressions of love on earth ... photos of kids getting their Mommy or Daddy back!

    Which one is your favorite?


    Image via Official US Navy Page/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Farrah Abraham auditionAll right Teen Mom fans, are you ready for Farrah Abraham ... actress? Nope, we're not talking about another porn flick. Farrah has gone and gotten herself a bona fide acting gig!

    The casting folks at Days of Our Lives took a look at her audition videos (more on that later), and they've decided to give her a spot on the daytime show. Of course, we are talking about Farrah Abraham here, so her upcoming role on the soap opera is, well, let's just say it's not one you call home to mom about.

    Word has it Farrah will be playing a hooker named Destiny. You can't wait to hear how she's going to explain this one to Sophia, can you?

    After Back Door: Teen Mom, this is actually a step up for Farrah. She can keep her clothes on!

    There's no question why she'd take the gig.

    More From The Stir: 'Teen Mom' Star Talks Regret

    There is, however, the question of why it's on offer to begin with. Is Days of Our Lives this hard up for ratings? Do they really need to sully their nearly 50-year history by bringing in a tacky reality star to bring attention to daytime?

    Because this smells an awful lot like a publicity stunt.

    Sure, a bunch of the old standby soaps were killed because they were just not making money for the networks, but remember the shit fits people pulled over the loss of All My Children and One Life to Live? They were so furious they actually got them back (albeit online)!

    Days of Our Lives has a contract through this time next year with NBC, so it's not like they're even hanging by a thread.

    I'd give Farrah all the credit for her acting chops, but remember those audition videos I mentioned? Yeah, well ... take a look:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    OK, so she's reading the lines off her cellphone, which can't be easy, but come on! It doesn't get much better with actual scripts:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    Maybe that's OK acting for a porno, but for the longest-running soap on a major network?

    What do you think? Is Farrah ready for this or is Days of Our Lives banking off her current star status to get ratings?


    Image via Sherry Girard/YouTube

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Jamie-Lynn SiglerReady to feel old? Jamie-Lynn Sigler is officially a mom! Meadow Soprano gave birth to a baby boy, her first child with fiance Cutter Dykstra.

    I know what you're thinking. Tony Soprano's daughter is a mother AND engaged? Indeed, it has happened. So take a sip of that Metamucil shake because now we've got the really big news for ya.

    The baby's name!

    Jamie-Lynn and Cutter had admitted earlier that they were really struggling with this decision, but in the end all that debating worked out well for the little guy -- his parents went traditional and gave him a normal albeit not often heard name.

    Beau! As in French for handsome (sorry, Sopranos fans, no Italian influences here).

    I wonder if that's a comment on his looks? Jamie-Lynn had said they might change their mind once the baby came along and just name him based on what fit, so it's possible!

    More From The Stir: 22 Things You NEVER Say to a Mom About Her Baby Name

    I do tend to feel that some babies just fit their names better than others, and I know more than a few parents who had their hearts set on one moniker only to meet their newborn and say, uh uh, no way, he's really an X instead of a Y.

    Regardless of when they made the decision or why, Beau is sure to be a cutie. Have you LOOKED at his parents?

    What do you think of the little guy's name?


    Image via Pacific Coast News

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    handcuffsSometimes I wonder if the world has just gone mad. Take this story out of Houston, Texas: an armed robbery of a restaurant ended in the murder of a customer. What did the poor guy do to deserve dying over dinner? Robert Placette jumped in front of a bunch of children ... to protect them from the guns being pointed at them.

    I just. I can't even fathom how something like this happens. How someone does something so selfless ... and how someone else sees it not as something to respect but a reason to take their life.

    Who robs a Denny's full of customers?

    Who points their gun at a bunch of kids?

    And who SHOOTS SOMEONE for stepping between said gun and CHILDREN?

    Witnesses at the Denny's in West Houston say the armed robbers told everyone to get down on the floor, and they were demanding their valuables. When they swung their guns in the direction of the kids, 64-year-old Placette got up and went to shield the kids.

    Clearly, Placette is the hero here. He could have just laid there and hoped for the best, but he didn't. He put himself out there for the sake of these kids.

    Clearly, I also do not think like a criminal because I'm struggling to wrap my head around the lack of empathy it takes to see an act so pure and so good and not be moved by it, to actually take a man's life.

    But then, if you're threatening to kill children, you are already too far gone for saving, aren't you?

    Here's hoping the cops in Houston catch these murderers and fast ... and that they spend the rest of their lives in jail. If only there were a worse punishment out there.

    What do you think should be done with these monsters?


    Image via CDogStar/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    elementary schoolA community is in turmoil after the former PTA president at the local elementary school was arrested. Cops say 37-year-old David M. Navarro (not to be confused with rocker Dave Navarro) recorded the sexual assault of an 8-year-old girl on school property. Then he posted it on the Internet! Technically that means child pornography was being made at an elementary school!

    How could such a thing happen? How could a guy who'd do that not only get into a school, but rise to the president of the Belfair Elementary School PTA? Surely heads should roll.

    Well, maybe not.

    The school's superintendent says they did a "state patrol background check" on Navarro when he became an elementary school volunteer back in 2011. It missed a 2009 charge for "lewd and lascivious acts with a child" as well as "indecent exposure." But that charge was dropped ... Navarro was never prosecuted.

    Unfortunately, this is the shortcoming of background checks. Typically they only uncover things that have been prosecuted. If someone skates or -- almost worse -- flies under the radar for years, a background check does diddly squat. It can't really determine the potential for someone to do something bad, only if they have been prosecuted in the past for doing something wrong.

    What we're left with is an imperfect system that puts people like David M. Navarro in a school. It puts a guy who police say shot at least six videos of this poor little girl, including one of her performing oral sex on school grounds, in a school.

    The only good news in all of this is that authorities here in the states were tipped off by police overseas who noted a GPS stamp on one of the videos found online (because, of course, child pornography spreads like a virus) that directed them to the Bellfair school. They were able to nail their suspect.

    Navarro is accused of uploading some 14 inappropriate photos to the site in addition to the video. He's facing federal child pornography charges. If he's guilty, he will go away for a good long time -- and that should show up on ANY background check.

    Do you have faith in background checks? Do you see any way to improve them?


    Image via stevendepolo/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Farrah Abraham Jenny McCarthyLet's say it's your daughter's first day of school tomorrow. What do you do? Get to bed early so you can leap out of bed, make her pancakes, and take a ton of photos? Or do you go the Farrah Abraham route and stay out partying until the wee hours, a few thousand miles away from home? The Teen Mom is getting major flack this week for missing her daughter's first day of school.

    Photos on Twitter prove Farrah was in New York, partying it up after the VMAs with the likes of Jenny McCarthy just hours before daughter Sophia started her first day of pre-K back home in Texas. The folks over at Radar did the math (and checked flights out of New York) and have proven it would have been impossible for Farrah to make it home in time for her daughter's big moment.

    But does that make her a bad mom?

    More From The Stir: 'Teen Mom' Star Isn't Afraid of Being Criticized

    I'm going to go out on a rather precarious limb here and defend Farrah.

    Yes, you heard it.

    So what if she wasn't there for her daughter's first day of school. It's pre-K. The kid has at least 13 more first days of school in her life.

    And OK, so this was a biggie, her first first day.

    But you know what? We don't always get to be there for the biggies because we can't be tethered to our kids 24/7. I remember going to daycare to pick up my then-1-year-old daughter after a long day of work, and she walked to me. The sitter graciously did not mention whether she'd walked earlier in the day, but my brain tells me that she probably did. I missed it. I MISSED my daughter walking for the first time.

    Was I partying? No. I was working.

    Which is kind of the same thing for Farrah at the moment. She's trying to build a career as an actress (God help us), and that means having her face seen at events like the VMAs. In the long run, having a job that puts food on the table for little Sophia is more important than being there for one particular moment.

    Do you think Farrah is a bad mom for missing Sophia's big day?


    Image via Twitter

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Miley Cyrus Robin ThickeFirst it was Miley Cyrus being attacked over her (admittedly raunchy and insane) VMA performance. Now Miley has broken her silence on Twitter to share something her dad said about the incident, and it's Billy Ray Cyrus who's fielding the hate for coming out in support of his little girl.

    America? What did you expect him to say?

    He's her father! It's his job to have his little girl's back ... at least in public.

    The country singer has been largely silent in public, actually, even bailing on an interview with Piers Morgan. Billy Ray's only real statement came when he told Entertainment Tonight earlier this week:

    Of course I'll always be here for Miley. Can't wait (to) see her when she gets home.

    She's my little girl, and I'm still her dad regardless how this circus we call show business plays out.

    But that was it until Miley's tweet:

    "Mile, if twerkin woulda been invented.... And I had a foam finger.... I woulda done the same thang you did." - DAD

    Would I say the same thing to my daughter? Not on your life. But then, this is just one thing that Billy Ray supposedly said. We don't know that he didn't also tell her that she acted like a bit of a buffoon on the VMA stage or that he didn't give Robin Thicke a piece of his mind.

    There's a line between what we say about our kids and their misdeeds in public and what we say to them in private -- at least there used to be. These days it seems parents have no qualms about airing the family's dirty laundry, posting rants about their kids on Facebook and Twitter.

    More From The Stir: Miley Cyrus Doesn't Owe Parents an Apology for Her Raunchy VMA Performance

    But I was raised to believe you keep things in the family, and I hold to that with my daughter. I may apologize for her behavior to others, but that's where it ends -- I don't berate her in public. There will be enough people willing to do that as she grows up, as we're seeing with Miley right now.

    It's my job as a parent to give it to her straight, and I will (and do) ... at home. Out in public, I try to temper what I have to say, to be a supportive mom, because I AM still her mom. She needs to know I'll be in her corner, that I don't stop loving her just because she screws up.

    I respect Billy Ray for not adding his voice to the din. It would be easy to just go along with the crowd. But he shows he's a real parent by taking the other road.

    How do you think Billy Ray is doing as a dad?


    Image via Getty/MTV

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    little girl in summerOh summertime, you can't be over yet, can you? Just yesterday it was Memorial Day, and there was so much ahead of us. Trips to the beach. To the river. To the creek! Staying outside late under the stars catching fireflies and eating fresh corn on the cob dripping in butter.

    You know what? I refuse to let it end. What do you say we hang on to summer as long as we can?

    Maybe this will help -- some of the best quotes about summer out there.

    Consider them something to live by even when it's cold and miserable out there!

    What is your favorite quote about summer?


    Image by Jeanne Sager

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    little girl's crazy outfitWe have reached the point of no return, a "Y" in the parenting road. My daughter wants to choose her own outfit for the first day of school. She's 8. She has a very ... let's just say interesting ... fashion sense.

    You can imagine my predicament. Perhaps you've been there? Perhaps your daughter dresses like mine?

    Because I let her run a bit wild in her closet this summer, and the clothes she chose ranged from ragamuffin to "are you really going out like that?"

    Honestly, I love her fashion sense ... or the lack thereof. It fills me with abject horror when we go out of the house, but it amazes me to see what she comes up with.

    OK, amazes me and amuses me.

    So I decided it was time I finally started documenting the crazy that is life with a little "fashionista." Something tells me that in the years to come, these will be the photos the whole family giggles over (her included ... I'm not being mean Mommy here; we're a family that laughs together).

    Below is the evidence. If this doesn't make you want to run out and do the same with your daughter, then I don't know what will!

    Do you let your daughter dress herself? Are you documenting it?!


    Image by Jeanne Sager

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    funny faceBefore my daughter was born, I spent a lot of time reading up on how to get "prepared" for motherhood. Brush up on diapering skills? Check. Learn AAP recommendations on back to sleep? Check. And on and on it went. But for all the duties the parenting books prepare you for, there are hundreds they leave out of the mom job description

    Ah, didn't know there WAS a mom job description, did you? Because motherhood isn't a job? It's true. Motherhood is not a job.

    It's dozens of them! Just take a look at the jobs I have become pretty darn adept at in the 8 years since my kid was born ...

    1. Detective. So the NYPD isn't exactly knocking on my door, begging to hire me, but I'm busy anyway ... I'm solving the mystery of a missing left shoe.

    2. Sandwich artist. Yes, that's what the people at Subway call themselves, and ya know what? If I can manage to get four perfectly equal triangles with no jelly oozing out the sides, I think I can slap squares of cheese on bread.

    3. Cosmetologist. Why didn't anyone tell me I was going to have to learn French braiding and hair de-knotting when I became a mother?

    4. Biologist. What is that growing in the bottom of the toybox? Wait, is that an abandoned peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Or was that ham?

    5. Pediatrician. I'm not saying I'm board certified or anything, but I've gotten pretty darn good at telling a real cough from an "I don't want to go to school today because we have a math test" cough.

    6. Seamstress. Let's just say that if you ever plan on getting a puppy, you buy a giant storage unit and move ALL of your child's most beloved toys into it first ... that is unless you like spending your Friday nights with a needle and thread making repairs?

    7. Security specialist. I have done the reconnaissance and ensured that the closet is secure. There are no monsters in there.

    8. Doorman. She goes out, I get up and close the door. She comes in, I get up and close the door. There's also a bit of yelling out the window or up the stairs to "close the darn door," but this one still seems to be in my area of expertise. 

    9. Mechanic. Maybe I can't fix MY car, but I've become adept at tire balancing and door repair on Barbie's car.

    10. Dental hygenist. Ever brushed the teeth of someone who was trying to make a break for it? I have.

    What jobs have YOU become a master at since you became a mom?


    Image by Jeanne Sager

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Teen Mom Katie YeagerOh. My. Did you catch the last big scene of Teen Mom 3 tonight? Katie Yeager's boyfriend (well, ex-boyfriend in real time) Joey Maes lost it!

    He didn't exactly go all Amber Portwood, or Jenelle Evans for that matter, but that boy has a temper on him, and Katie looked terrified when she kicked him out. Frankly, I don't blame her!

    In case you missed it, everything seemed to be going along swimmingly after Joey popped the questions last week. He's been picking up extra shifts at the mines, and they got a deal on a new apartment with a bedroom for Molli -- no more sleeping near the coffee pot. But then Katie fields a call from one of Joey's old buddies. Turns out he's owed the guy $400 for three years, and suddenly the guy wants to collect.

    You can understand Katie getting flustered. She didn't know about this outstanding debt, and $400 is a pretty nice chunk of change, especially when your rent is more than $900 a month. Not to mention they're just about to move into pricier digs! The timing was pretty awful.

    She was a little hard on Joey, springing the news on him just after he woke up, but his behavior is out of control. First he demands she take him to his mom's house, and then later when he comes home, he starts screaming at her and throwing things!

    That's not a good situation for any girl to be around, but especially not one with a baby.

    The other girls had it a little easier this week.

    Mackenzie Douthit's boyfriend, Josh McKee, has decided not to move in with her, but he's offered to stay over one night a week to lend a hand with their son. In a rather ironic twist, her mom is forcing Josh to sleep in a separate bedroom because she doesn't approve of sex before marriage. Um, she does know where her grandson came from, right? 

    Alex Sekella's boyfriend is still living at her house, and her mom stepped in to try to smooth things over between the two young parents who are always fighting. She shipped them off to therapy, something they sorely need. Whether Matt McCann is back on drugs or not, it's not healthy for little Arabella to be in a house full of screaming.

    The pleasant surprise of the night came from Devoin Austin. After Briana DeJesus went to court to file an order of protection because of his insane cyberbullying, he woke up and actually showed up to watch his daughter when asked. He did as well as you would expect from a guy who had never been alone with his baby before, but at least he tried. He even changed her diaper. And, OK, he called Briana before his hour with Nova was up, but he didn't actually sound like he was asking her to come home, just to tell him where to find a clean outfit to change the baby.

    What is remarkable about this series of Teen Mom is that all the fathers -- as awful as some of them may be -- are still present in their kids' lives. By this point in other shows, some of the guys were already gone.

    But then, with the way Joey is treating Katie, maybe that would be the better option.

    What did you think of Joey's freak-out tonight? Did he scare you?


    Image via MTV

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Kyron HormanIt's hard to tell whether the latest news in the case of missing Oregon boy Kyron Horman is good or bad. Kyron's mom, Desiree Young, was foiled in an attempt to get answers out of the missing boy's stepmother earlier this year when she had to drop a lawsuit against Terri Horman, but she hasn't given up without a fight. Over the weekend, Young organized a search around the elementary school where Kyron was last seen in 2010, attending a science fair.

    Let me repeat that. The search around Skyline Elementary wasn't run by police. It was run by Kyron's mom. And they found something!

    Or, at least, Young says the crew of 60 volunteers, two nonprofit organizations, and 10 search dogs turned up "a lot of things and possibly evidence," which were turned over to the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.

    For Young's sake, I actually do hope they found something in the search for her son -- if only to give her closure. This poor woman has spent three years wondering what happened to her little boy, unable to move on. As Desiree Young told reporters,

    I still feel like I'm stuck back on June 4. I can't move on from that because I don't have answers, I don't have Kyron.

    And it's not for lack of trying.

    Young sued Terri, who dropped Kyron off at elementary school that fateful morning, because she said she hoped the suit would make the boy's stepmother open up about what happened that day. Kyron's dad, Kaine Horman, has allegedly filed for divorce because he too thinks she was somehow involved in the child's disappearance.

    The lawsuit didn't work because police couldn't share evidence from the case with Young, evidence she needed to proceed in court.

    That put her back to square one.

    Hence the search over the weekend.

    And ... hopefully ... some answers for Kyron's parents

    And yet ... do answers come at a cost? What about justice for Kyron? We don't know what exactly happened to him three years ago, but we do know SOMETHING happened, and SOMEONE should have to pay.

    If a group of volunteers found crucial evidence, evidence that could nail the person responsible for stealing this child away from his family, it may answer what happened to Kyron, but will it be useful in court if the cops weren't involved? Maybe I've watched too many courtroom dramas, but I worry that any attorney worth his salt would have a ball with evidence handled by amateurs, with a crime scene that was possibly compromised by non-police tromping through there. A search by volunteers is a great thought, but I can only imagine it would make for a legal headache in the quest for justice. 

    Then again, the person responsible for Kyron's disappearance has gotten away with it for three years AND his parents have had no answers. Not pursuing answers isn't getting them any closer to justice for Kyron.

    Something has to give here for this poor family.

    Put yourself in Desiree Young's shoes. Would you have organized a search or would you wait on the police?


    Image via National Center for Missing and Exploited Kids

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Dianna Agron Naya RiveraThe Gleetribute to Cory Monteith is supposed to be a reunion of sorts for the original cast. But get this: Dianna Agron will not be on the show. And now we know why!

    The actress, who starred as Quinn Fabray for the first four seasons (although she wasn't around much for the fourth, who can forget that drunk hook-up with Santana?), wasn't even invited to participate!

    Um, what? I think I can still hear the echo of that slap in the face.

    When asked by the New York Post, Dianna confirmed, coolly (their words), that she didn't get a call about the Glee tribute. And she didn't sound happy about being split from the show:

    I think moving on might be the wrong choice of words because [“Glee”] is always going to be a part of me and with me and I would always go back. So it’s not necessarily about a departure. It’s about what it’s imparted in me and what it’s given me.

    Glee has certainly given Dianna Agron a lot ... like a jump start to her career, and it's classy of her to say so, especially in light of the snub over the tribute. 

    Granted, Dianna is up to her own thing these days, what with her new mafia flick, The Family, coming out in theaters on September 13. She was getting so little work from Glee that she really had to get out there and kick her acting career into overdrive.

    But plenty of other Glee stars are doing other things these days. Amber Riley is rumored to be joining the Dancing With the Stars cast, and Naya Rivera has that M&Ms commercial ... need I go on? Point is, she's busy ... but not so busy that she shouldn't be able to carve out some time in her schedule for an old friend.

    And Cory is an old friend; she's made that very clear. Not only has she made mention of him in recent interviews for The Family, but immediately after his death in June, Dianna made a point to attend a Chord Overstreet concert dedicated to Cory. She was there with fellow Gleeks Kevin McHale and Jenna Ushkowitz, with whom she has a close relationship -- or it would seem based on their tweets and her inclusion in Ushkowitz' book.

    So what gives? Is this personal?

    Because it can't be professional ... not having Dianna in a cast reunion tribute to Cory seems like it would be BAD for the show.

    Heather Morris is the one other original castmate left out of the tribute, but her pregnancy would be rather difficult to explain. More to the point, Brittany was an important character, but not in relation to Finn Hudson.

    Dianna, on the other hand, played Finn's love interest! She and Cory were linked so closely that it would seem odd not to have her show up to any sort of celebration of his life.

    What do you think of the snub? Is this bad for the show?


    Image via Adam Rose/FOX

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Mackenzie Douthit McKeeTeen Mom has its critics, but the show continues to share real life situations parents have with their teenagers, and this week's Teen Mom 3 episode was no exception. Mackenzie Douthit McKee had a tussle with her mom about birth control. The teenager wanted on it. The mom? She was dead set against it.

    It seems Angie Douthit doesn't believe in sex before marriage, and she doesn't believe in teenage girls going on birth control. Anyone want to guess how she ended up a grandmother before her daughter turned 17?

    Shot a year ago, the episode shows Mackenzie shortly after the birth of son Gannon. That means what we saw on TV happened prior to her second pregnancy (which we just heard about last month) and prior to her marriage to boyfriend Josh McKee. At the time, Josh was sleeping over at the Douthit house once a week to lend a hand with his son, but Angie Douthit mandated that the two teenagers sleep in separate rooms to prevent any hanky panky.

    More From The Stir: 'Teen Mom 3' Recap: Joey's Temper Scares More Than Just Katie

    I hear her on that. One grandbaby before graduation is enough; she doesn't need to encourage two teens to sleep together and risk a second one!

    But I was puzzled by her attitude about birth control. She flat-out told a teenage mother NOT to go on birth control because she doesn't support sex before marriage.

    Does Angie Douthit not know HOW her daughter ended up pregnant? Who is the adult here?

    Parents need to be ready to talk about sex with our kids. Period. We need to be able to talk to our kids about what might happen, not just what we WANT to happen. We need to be able to talk about birth control and the realities of what birth control is.

    Birth control is not an indication that our kids are going to jump in the sack. In fact, studies have shown that increased access to condoms does NOT increase a child's likelihood of having sex or lower the age at which they lose their virginity. That access to birth control DOES, however, make for safer sex when it does happen.

    This is what Mackenzie clearly had in mind -- and good for her. She knew that she'd once planned for abstinence with Josh but that abstinence didn't happen; pregnancy did. As she told her mom, she wasn't planning on sleeping with Josh anytime soon, but she didn't want to get carried away and have baby number two.

    Credit goes to Mackenzie for having the wherewithal to make her own doctor's appointment, talk to the physician about a birth control method that would be stable and not affect her diabetes, and for going through with the IUD insertion. She was thinking ahead.

    But watching her alone in a hallway outside the doctor's office, texting her mom about the IUD because she was too afraid to talk to her face to face about the birth control, I was overwhelmed by sadness. I remember being that kid who was terrified to talk to her parents about birth control. It didn't make for a good situation.

    I refuse to do that to my kid. I refuse to have a kid so scared to talk to me about birth control that she plans for abstinence and, when it doesn't happen, ends up a teen mom because there was no preventative measure in place to protect her. 

    Because that's what talking about birth control with our kids is -- it's not encouraging sex; it's protecting them if sex happens.

    Mackenzie's mom failed to protect her kid. Is it any wonder she ended up pregnant twice before age 19?

    What did you think of Mackenzie's mom's attitude? Was she right?


    Image via MTV

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    IVA young girl with cancer has been sucked into a legal battle between her parents and a hospital. The 10-year-old patient's parents wanted to stop chemotherapy because they felt it was making her sicker, but the hospital says it's the only thing that can save Sarah Hershberger's life. And to make matters more complicated, this family is Amish. That means they don't believe in a whole lot of medical intervention.

    But does that make them bad parents

    According to Akron Children's Hospital, it does. The hospital took Sarah's parents to court and got a judge to grant guardianship of the girl to an attorney who's also a registered nurse. That attorney can now ignore the Hersherbergers' plans to treat Sarah's cancer with natural medicines, herbs, and vitamins.

    The message is pretty clear -- these parents were failing their daughter, so another authority had to step in to save her life.

    The Hershbergers are calling it a violation of their rights as parents.

    But isn't part of having a child giving up your rights? Or at least letting the rights of your child supersede your rights as a parent?

    We let it happen all the time, in the smallest of ways. We put their well-being against our "rights" to do things that conflict with child-rearing, from going out at night when the kids need you home to keep them safe to buying the family-friendly car instead of the one you really want.

    We learn to make choices based on what they need, not what we want, to set aside our own feelings in favor of the best choice ... for THEM.

    Here we have a kid with cancer, and we have clear scientific path to recovery. The doctors say Sarah's form of cancer is highly treatable, and there's an 85 percent chance of a five-year survival rate (the standard marker of remission for cancer) if she continues with chemo. Scans even show the chemo she'd undergone so far DID reduce her tumors. 

    So how can a parent walk away from that? Even if they're uncomfortable with it, the fact is, they're not doctors. They're not experts. Sometimes you just have to trust that someone else knows better ... and do what's best for your kid. This 10-year-old has the RIGHT to have the best care possible to save her life.

    Her parents' rights can't possibly be more important than that.

    Whose side do you take here? Would you let a doctor make an important medical decision for your child?


    Image via Ano Lobb/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    baby One of the most frustrating battles in the mommy war is that of breast vs. bottle. Why do women care so much how others feed their kids? Is there really cause to rip one another apart?

    As a woman who wanted desperately to breastfeed and didn't last very long before having to switch to formula, I feel like I'm right in the middle. I see both sides. I have LIVED both sides. And I'll admit my failure as a breastfeeding mom changed me. It made me more open. It made me more understanding.

    I wonder -- if the more fervent members of the breastfeeding community truly understood that women don't choose formula willy-nilly, could we put this one to rest? For good?

    With that in mind, we decided to ask moms to share the real reasons they chose to formula feed, whether it was from the get-go or after attempts at breastfeeding. Not surprisingly, "because I'm lazy" wasn't mentioned by a single mom. None said, "I want to poison my child" either.

    More from The Stir: 10 Things Never to Say to a Formula-Feeding Mom

    Instead they were all well-thought out, all understandable:

    1. For my first, I formula fed. I had a breast tumor removed less than a year before conceiving and I was unsure how breastfeeding would go. I breastfed the other two.

    2. My children were all adopted.

    3. I nursed my daughter exclusively for 19 months. Never any formula. Then, when the twins came along, I tried to nurse both exclusively but I was EXHAUSTED and couldn't keep up. One of my boys had tummy issues so he was nursed exclusively for 13 months. The other twin, however, never latched well and preferred the bottle. I was too tired to pump and didn't have enough supply to feed exclusively anyway, so he was supplemented with formula and after four months was pretty much on formula completely.

    4. My daughter was formula fed after I had surgery to remove large amounts of endometriosis and a complex ovarian cyst. The doctor and I agreed it was best for me to be on medication to keep it away.

    5. I nursed my boys until they were all 6 months old and then I changed to formula because I couldn't keep up with their appetites.

    6. I was diagnosed with cancer shortly after giving birth and undergoing treatment, so breastfeeding was just not in the cards.

    7. My first daughter was great to breastfeed, but with my second, I started but had postpartum depression and became very emotionally overwhelmed.

    8. I formula fed my daughter after I went back to work, and she decided she preferred the formula to my breast milk. It was a hard decision but it is what she wanted literally.

    9. My thyroid issues caused me to dry up, and no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get it back.

    10. I had to supplement for the first month as it took my milk two weeks to come in. Then I exclusively breastfed until 10 months, and I had to start supplementing again because my supply dropped. I couldn't get my supply back up due to stress, working full time, and my cycle returning.

    11. I supplemented for a while, then stopped breastfeeding when I went back to work. I would have liked to continue breastfeeding, but my body did not like the pump. I don't know what it was, but I just didn't get the same let down as when he nursed. So from that point on, I formula fed.

    12. I could never get my son to latch, and after 24 hours he was obviously starving. We tried pumping with no luck, and the hospital insisted that he had to drink (more like choke) out of a cup so as not to create confusion. Considering we were going home the next day, I decided that we had to find a permanent solution, and the first time we tried the bottle, he ate like a champ -- it was like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders (by then he was 1 1/2 days old). My milk never did come in.

    13. We were afraid he wasn't getting enough milk at first. Then he just wasn't/still isn't gaining weight, so we've always used it as a supplement.

    14. I have a demanding career that I happen to love so this was an easy choice. Formula was easy, and I like that my husband and I could take turns waking up with our daughter.

    15. When I went back to work, there was no place to pump, and telling my boss "the law was on my side" was just risking his wrath. I needed my job.

    So how about you? Did you end up using formula? Why?


    Image via jessicafm/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Alexis MurphyIt has officially been one month since Shipman, Virginia teenager Alexis Murphy disappeared, and despite having a suspect in custody -- a man named Randy Allen Taylor was arrested on August 11 -- no one has had any clue where the missing girl might be. At least until now.

    Police have made two startling discoveries in recent days -- new evidence that points to something bad having happened to the young girl who left her home to go shopping and never came back.

    Over the weekend, a red sweater thought to belong to the teenager was found in the Rockfish River. Now the FBI is confirming searchers found the Nelson County teenager's cellphone -- near Taylor's house.

    It's a second piece of damning evidence for Taylor. Cops placed him under arrest after allegedly finding Murphy's hair in his home, but he has maintained his innocence. Taylor claims he met Murphy at a gas station and drank and did drugs with her, but that she left his home with a drug dealer he can't identify.

    Not only does Murphy's family say the story makes no sense -- Alexis neither drank nor did drugs -- she's the second teenager he's been linked to. Cops allege he was also somehow involved in the disappearance of a girl named Samantha Clarke back in 2010, but Taylor denies that as well, and there hasn't been enough evidence to convict him. 

    Finding Alexis' cellphone isn't nearly as good as finding Alexis herself, alive, but as they say, something is better than nothing. The more the cops have to go on, the better chance they have of pressuring the person who took her to explain what happened to her -- to give her family answers they need, and hopefully get this girl from justice.

    Do you find Taylor's story fishy? What do you make of the discovery of her cellphone?


    Image via National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

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