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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

    classroomWhenever anyone says mothers are "better" at things than non-parents, I feel a twinge of sympathy for the child-free. How presumptuous is it to assume that one's parental status makes them "better"? And so it is with the assertion that parents make better teachers.

    That's the title of a controversial article by Sara Mosle that appeared in Slate just in time for back to school. A mother and a teacher both, Mosle claims she's better at the job now that she has a daughter than she was two decades ago when she was just starting out.

    Fair enough, but perhaps that has more to do with two decades of experience in adulthood than with her progeny?

    Sure, parents can make for good teachers. I sent my daughter off to school this morning and into the classroom of a mother of two. I'm hoping for a good year, a year not unlike the last three she's had -- each with mothers.

    Is it because these women had children that they were so responsive to my daughter's fears, so encouraging of her love of reading, so willing to dole out hugs and tissues? Maybe.

    Then again, her kindergarten teacher has been teaching in the district for decades, and her daughter is not much older than my own -- perhaps 10 or 11 at most. She has been a teacher far longer than she's been a mother, and she's always been beloved by her students and their parents both. She was "the" teacher to get well before her child came along. 

    It had nothing to do with motherhood and everything to do with the fact that she was simply the right sort of person for the job.

    There are single people and married people without kids who are the right sort of person for teaching -- tons of them. Some of my favorite teachers had no children (and still don't). They were still warm, still nurturing, and had lasting impacts on my life.

    Heck, they brought things to job that their fellow parents could not because they had NO kids at home. Think about it -- they didn't get burnt out on kiddom. They went home at night and got real sleep! They didn't spend their mornings waging a war over teeth brushing, sneaker finding, and lunch preparing before arriving in a classroom and having to face 22 sneaker-wearing, gap-toothed grinning children toting lunch boxes.

    They weren't there because the job guaranteed they wouldn't have to pay a sitter during summer and Christmas vacations. They had true delineations between their private lives and their work lives.

    If that's what it takes to get a good teacher for my kid, so be it.

    I want a teacher who loves kids -- whether they have them or not -- and who has the patience to work with them. I want a teacher who loves learning so much that they want to spread that love.

    I want them to be there for my kid.

    And if the only person who meets those criteria has no kids, I'm sure as heck not going to say, "Eh, no, let's get a Mom in here, because she'll do a better job."

    Do you think teachers should have to be parents?


    Image via Eric James Sarmiento/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    college lecture hallOne of the advantages of having a teenage babysitter who is more like a second daughter than an employee is the chance to live parenting moments vicariously before they happen for your child. Right now she's in full college visit mode. Hence, we are wrapped up in how to choose a college.

    Her parents are taking care of all of the important stuff -- tuition, transferring AP credits, etc. But what about the stuff they don't tell you about in the books or at the high school guidance office?

    Aren't there things you wish you'd known when you were choosing a college? As I watch her try to figure out what she's going to do with the rest of her life, I'm realizing there's a lot more I want my daughter to know when she picks a school:

    1. Following your best friend/boyfriend doesn't guarantee anything. My best friend and I chose the same college -- although ironically it wasn't to be together. Good thing too, we fell apart within months. Fast forward a decade and a half, and we say "happy birthday" on Facebook once a year. That's it.

    2. Getting far from home isn't all it's cracked up to be. It's the dream of just about every kid, isn't it? But take it from someone who only went two hours from home ... when you have a raging case of bronchitis and want nothing more than to roll up in your own comforter in your own bed, it really stinks having to ride a bus for several hours and then hike to your mom's office with your suitcase. Sometimes close to home means close to comfort.

    3. Don't knock the culture shock. A friend went from Connecticut to North Carolina for college and lasted all of one semester -- she just didn't feel comfortable in a culture that was so different from everything she'd ever known.

    4. The biggest debt doesn't come from the biggest names. When you think college debt, you think the biggies, right? The private Ivies? Actually, a look at what class of 2011 grads owed shows that's not always the case -- you can have just as high, if not higher, a debt load graduating from a public university. Don't ignore private schools when you're searching -- they might offer better scholarships!

    5. Big name schools don't guarantee you a better job. The debt load isn't all you need to consider when it comes to cost. What about after school. If you think the big name will guarantee you a job in this market, you've got another think coming.

    6. It's OK to be undeclared. The average high schooler is 17 when they graduate. If you don't know what you want to do with the rest of your life at 17, you are COMPLETELY NORMAL. Don't lock yourself into something you're going to hate just because the college wants you to declare a major.

    7. Community college is perfect for the undeclared major. If you can't make up your mind, don't spend $54,000 a year trying to figure it out. Just don't.

    8. A gap year is OK. I keep beating that "I dunno" drum, don't I? Well, considering 46 percent of students who enter an American college fail to graduate within six years, there's a reason! Plenty of kids heading off to college are doing it because they think they should, not because they actually know what they want to do -- and in the long run that will backfire.

    9. It's not worth it if you don't enjoy it. I'm not saying you will love getting up for every 8 a.m. chemistry class or taking every test. But there's intense pressure on kids these days to get into the best school possible and then to power through in as few semesters as possible. Slow down! These are the last years you really get to have FUN ... and yes, you can do that without showing up at every kegger. And if you can't, come home. Start over. Failure IS an option. And about that 8 a.m. class ... once you're there, don't even waste my money scheduling it!

    What do you wish someone had told you when you were choosing a college?


    Image via Sean MacEntee/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    clockA mom has given birth to a baby girl exactly two years after the girl's big sister was born. And by exactly, I mean these sisters were born at the same time of day, two years apart. Their births are the same -- almost to the minute. It couldn't have been better if she'd planned it.

    Of course, she didn't plan it. That's the miraculous part of Nicole Charles' daughters' unique birthdays.

    The mother of two went into labor during daughter Nia Rose's birthday party on August 23, and at 11:38 p.m., Sophia arrived. Nia was born at 11:43 p.m. on August 23, 2011.

    The sisters are two years and five minutes apart.

    How crazy is that? Being born two years apart to the day would be cool enough, but the fact that it came down to the hour makes it that much more special.

    And trust me, it IS special.

    My cousin was born on my grandfather's birthday. As the first grandchild in the family, she probably would already have had a special bond -- just as the Charles sisters would already be bound as siblings -- but their birthdays tied them together in a way that none of us cousins could ever replicate.

    What I really appreciate about the coincidence for the Charles family (and for my own!) is that it was accidental. I'm not knocking C-sections here, folks, but when a mom plans a C-section just so her kid will share a birthday with a family member (or herself), it sort of takes the magic out of it. But when a mother spontaneously gives birth so the child's special moment coincides with another family member's, it's a mark that brings the two closer together.

    Do you have a birthday coincidence like this in your family?


    Image via deux-chi/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Helen NewsomeA little boy is lucky to be alive today after his dad's ex-girlfriend allegedly snuck into his room and tried to kill him! The 8-year-old from Maryland was fast asleep when cops say Helen Marie Newsome held a pillow over his head and tried to bludgeon him with a dumbbell.

    And you thought your ex was crazy? Sheesh.

    Apparently Jacob Soliz-Amaya's dad had broken up with Newsome the week before. Why she might be mad at dad is obvious.

    But what did the poor kid do? He's an innocent victim in all of this!

    Obviously you can't be right in the head to try to kill someone, least of all a child. But isn't there a moment when you sit down and think, "Who am I really mad at?" Isn't that the person you take it up with? You don't try to kill them (duh), but at least you get into it with THEM, not their poor kid.

    Fortunately, cops say Jacob woke up when the pillow was placed over this head, and was able to fight off Newsome with a headbutt. Brave little guy! He had to be taken to the hospital and get staples in his head, but he's doing OK.

    Newsome, on the other hand, is facing first degree attempted murder charges after cops say she admitted to assaulting Jacob. She's being held on $500,00 bond, so the boy is safe, for now at least.

    Here's hoping a conviction -- if she's convicted -- would put her in prison for a long, long, long time. Rage issues that would drive you to try to kill someone's child for breaking up with you are not compatible with life out here in the real world.

    Do you have a crazy ex story? Did it reach criminal proportions?


    Image via police

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Dad kicked out of theme parkA family took their 16-year-old to Universal Studios for her Sweet Sixteen to see the Blue Man Group. How is this news (other than the fact that kids are actually asking to go see the Blue Man Group)? Because dad's "police" t-shirt got the whole family kicked out of the theme park in what sounds like the biggest security screw-up of the week. 

    The story goes that Christian Jarosz wore a t-shirt he got from his brother, a cop, to the show at Universal. When he got there, security told him he'd have to change.

    But then they decided to do something entirely different.

    They kicked them out and -- according to Diana Jarosz -- threatened to have dad arrested!

    According to a Universal release to the press, the shirt was a violation of park rules that stipulate "only law enforcement personnel are allowed to wear shirts in the park identifying them as police officers."

    Fair enough. But Jarosz says he offered to buy a shirt right then and there to replace the Police Street Team Unit tee he was wearing. Security said OK ... but then changed their minds and kicked him out.

    Uhhhhh ... how are people supposed to follow rules if you don't let them?

    Could this dad have been being a bit of a jerk to security so they lost it? Who knows. It's highly possible, but it could just as easily have been the other way around. We've all dealt with heavy handed security folks before, folks who think a light up stick has made them the king of the world.

    The fact remains that any establishment that sets rules for its patrons has to allow patrons an ability to follow said rules. Don't want certain t-shirts on premises? If you don't make that clear ahead of time (there were no big signs outside Universal telling this dad his shirt was a no-no), then you must give a person a chance to change said t-shirt.

    Let's just set the shirt aside for a second. Say you're somewhere that doesn't have no smoking signs and you light up. Security comes over and says, wellll, actually there's no smoking here. Should you be thrown out for lighting up? Not if you say, "Whoops, sorry," and snuff your butt.

    Most people are not mind readers! Ignorance of the law may not be a defense in court, but ignorance of a private establishment's rules that aren't publicly listed? That's pretty clear cut, folks!

    The public posting of rules or reasonable enforcement of them -- such as allowing someone to change a t-shirt that's not acceptable -- is part of showing how you value (or don't value) your customers.

    Universal, by the way, has since apologized, and the family was refunded their $500 (gulp) ticket price for the Blue Man Group.

    Have you ever been kicked out of an establishment? What happened?

    Image via WFTV

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Adam Lind Taylor Halbur new babyIt's happened. One of the worst examples of fatherhood on reality television has become a father of two. Adam Lind -- aka the most notorious felon from Teen Mom 2 (yes, folks, he's been in the clink more than Jenelle Evans!) -- and girlfriend Taylor Halbur welcomed a little girl this week, the brand new half-sister of Chelsea Houska's daughter Aubree.

    The new mom went into labor on Monday's holiday appropriately enough, although the baby girl wasn't born until Tuesday, September 3.

    Now for the question of the hour. Did they go with the ridiculous baby name?

    More From The Stir: Mackenzie Douthit Was Destined to Get Pregnant Again With a Mom Like This

    You know what I'm talking about folks! The name Chelsea thought was a little weird?

    It has indeed come to pass. Aubree now has a little sister named ... Paislee Lind.

    It's not that the name isn't cute. I happen to love Paisley for a girl.


    Not Paislee.

    Because you know what happens when you give your kid a normal name and then spell it like that? You give them a life of having to re-spell their name for EVERYONE!


    On the other hand, the baby is unspeakably adorable. And Adam seems to actually be stepping up for Taylor -- even if he couldn't for Chelsea. Maybe he's turned a page, maybe this little one will finally make him grow up and be a father ... to both his daughters? Let's hope, for Aubree's sake, for Paislee's sake, and for Taylor's sake!

    What do you think of the baby name?


    Image via Twitter

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    military mom surprising sonAwww! Have you seen the video of a mom who just came home from a tour of duty with the military, surprising her son at his high school football game?

    I'll admit, I'm a sucker for military family reunions. Who isn't? They have all the elements tailor-made for a good cry. There's a servicemember home safe and sound. There's a kid and parent being brought back together. And everyone is HAPPY.

    But here's what I really love about how Sgt. Javelle Crowder set things up for her return to Nebraska from her third tour in Afghanistan.

    More From The Stir: 11 Heartwarming Military Parent Homecomings Guaranteed to Put a Smile on Your Face

    She disguised herself as a ref so she could sneak into the Bellevue West High School football game without the senior linebacker knowing. She truly made her return about her son and about what he loves. Just watch:

    Are you crying too?

    Choosing his football game seemed like mom was sending a message to Jovan that no matter where she is, no matter what, she supports him and his dreams, his loves.

    That, my friends, is true love!

    What do you think of this mom's disguise?


    Image via KETV

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Kenneth WebbSome people should never be allowed around kids. It's a sad fact, but it's true. Take, for example, the father arrested recently over a "grammar lesson" gone horribly wrong.

    Police in Indiana say Kenneth R. Webb was trying to teach his 3-year-old to say "may I please" before asking for something. Pretty reasonable, right? We all want polite kids.

    But when the 3-year-old wouldn't cooperate, wouldn't even look dear old Dad in the eye, cops say Webb lost it. The 29-year-old allegedly started beating on the little guy, causing significant bruising to the neck and face.

    Right now Dad's been charged with neglect of a dependent and battery resulting in bodily injury to a person under the age of 14. He's lost custody of the 3-year-old -- at least for now. If he's convicted, he'll lose the kid for at least 18 months, as the felonies he's charged with carry a standard 18-month sentence.

    Records show this would be Webb's first offense if he's convicted, and I'll put it out there that he's hardly the first parent to get frustrated with an uncooperative toddler. But I'm struggling to drum up that "we're all in this together" parental sympathy ... and not coming up with much of anything.

    He allegedly beat a 3-year-old up. For not using his manners? Saying a kid didn't say please is like saying a kid was just being a kid!

    Is 18 months even enough punishment for that? We are talking a defenseless 3-year-old here.

    At the very least, I think they need to throw in some anger management and parenting classes too. No one who is around children should have a temper that blows that easily.

    What do you think should be done here? Do you have any parental sympathy for the situation?


    Image via Henry County Sheriff's Department

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Kris JennerIt isn't always easy being a homeschooling parent in America. There are more than 1.5 million kids for whom back to school carries a very different meaning, but it's still a choice that gets parents judged ... and how. Think homeschooling parents are just a bunch of crazy eccentrics who wrap their kids in bubbles and don't even have running water?

    Maybe this will change your mind: homeschooling isn't just something Mr. and Mrs. Jones around the corner do. It's a pretty popular education method favored by some of Hollywood's biggest celebrities!

    Their reasons are varied for choosing to homeschool. Some working actors and actresses want to be able to take their kids on the road when they're working, and homeschool is very portable. Others see a problem with the American educational model that they want to fix at home, and still others simply want to protect their kids from prying eyes.

    Regardless of the reason, they're proof positive that homeschooling is a great choice for a lot of different kinds of parents! Just take a look:

    1. Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise -- Suri Cruise became a Catholic schoolgirl when her parents divorced last year, but in 2010, Katie couldn't say enough good things about having her little girl learn at home. They chose to homeschool because they liked the "one-on-one" education for their daughter.

    2. Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith -- This power couple ended up starting their own private school, but it was after daughter and son Willow and Jaden were homeschooled for years as part of a cooperative of about 10 parents who all went in together to homeschool their kids.

    3. Mayim Bialik -- In addition to being a star on CBS's The Big Bang Theory, Bialik is a homeschooling mom who favors an "unschooling" approach to education.

    4. Kris and Bruce Jenner -- Kylie and Kendall Jenner are almost as busy as their big sisters, but that doesn't mean their parents let schoolwork slide -- they do it at home!

    5. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt -- The Jolie-Pitts have a rule that if one parent will be on location for more than five days, the whole brood has to go. Tutors go with the kids to make sure they don't fall behind!

    6. Cynthia Bailey -- The Real Housewives of Atlanta star began to homeschool daughter Noelle at the girl's request. Noelle wasn't faring well in a mainstream school setting, and time at home helped her find her place again.

    7. Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin -- Gwynnie reportedly offered a tutor $98,000 a year (plus an apartment!) to travel the world with her family and to teach the kids, of course.

    8. Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar -- The Duggars wanted a Christian-based curriculum for their big brood, so that means the kids learn at home. ALL of them. 

    9. Kate Gosselin and Jon Gosselin -- Homeschooling wasn't so much a choice as a necessity for these reality parents when two of their eight kids were kicked out of school.

    Are you surprised by any of the names on this list?


    Image via Splash News

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    10 lunch box note ideasAnd so it has begun. The kids are back in school, and the parents are back in the daily routine of stuffing homework folders and making sure school lunches are packed. Sometimes it feels like it will never end. It sure feels that way for the kids.

    Do you ever wish you could let your kids know in the middle of the school day that you haven't forgotten about them? To hang in there, bud, because it's all going to be OK?

    Ahem, Mom, remember that lunch box I mentioned before? It's all about the lunch notes!

    You could just write "I love you" on a Post-It and call it a day ... or you could try one of these ideas to really rock their socks:

    1. ABC cards -- These free printables cover 26 days of sweetness to your sweetie!

    2. Chalk it up -- Chalkboard paint turns the inside of a metal lunchbox into a chalkboard where you can write a message every day!

    3. Survey says -- Include a lunchtime survey (and a pencil!) so you can get a little feedback on their day.

    4. Origami notes -- Write your good wishes on the inside of a little critter!

    5. Riddle me this -- Crop photos of familiar objects and slip them in their lunchbox with the question "what am I" -- they can get the whole table guessing!

    6. Banana notes -- Carve a message into the peel of their banana!

    7. Pin It -- These clothespins open up to reveal a hidden message!

    8. All Thumbs -- Draw thumbprint critters to make them smile.

    9. Just a Joke -- No need to get fancy, just make them laugh with something silly. My favorite? "If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring? Pilgrims!" Don't have a joke in mind? Check out the printable kid jokes.

    10. Caught You ... Being Good -- Were they extra well-behaved at bedtime last night? Get an A on their test? Surprise them with a "caught you being good" coupon at lunchtime ... that promises something awesome when they get home.

    Do you put notes in your kids' lunch? What are your favorites?


    Image by Jeanne Sager

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Elaina SteinfurthAwful news today in the case of Elaina Steinfurth, the 1-year-old who went missing from her home in Ohio in early June. The search for baby Elaina may have come to an end with a shocking discovery in the home of her mother Angela Mories Steinfurth and Angela's boyfriend, Steven King.

    Police executed another search warrant at baby Elaina's home late this week based on "new evidence." Now a coroner has confirmed that human remains were found in the last place where Elaina was seen alive. Human remains!

    There's an autopsy under way to determine cause of death, although Lucas County Coroner Dr. James Patrick said identifying the remains may take longer, possibly even weeks. So it's possible that it's not Elaina, even though that is the most obvious conclusion. Even though everything about this case has seemed suspicious from the get go. Even though Elaina's mother AND her boyfriend are both in jail facing charges that relate to the girl's disappearance -- albeit not murder or even manslaughter (not right now anyway).

    It could be that Elaina is still out there.

    Highly unlikely, but it could be. It's possible as of this moment for people who want to hold out hope to do so.

    But it's impossible to look at this as anything but bad news. Human remains were found. That means someone -- whether it's Elaina or not -- is dead.

    A life was lost, a life that was loved by someone out there.

    Right now TJ Steinfurth, Elaina's father, is unable to speak on information he's gotten from police other than to say that he's "irate" and that he's having a hard time being optimistic now. This poor man has been through so much in the past few months, and it sounds like his nightmare is only getting worse.

    What do you make of this horrific discovery?


    Image via National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Matt McCann Alex SekellaKids. They grow up so fast. Even the stars of Teen Mom. You turn around and the next thing you know they're engaged!

    Yes, I said engaged. It seems wedding bells will soon be ringing for Matt McCann, father of cutie Arabella and ex-boyfriend of Teen Mom 3 star Alex Sekella.

    So who is the lucky lady?

    Not Alex!

    Matt popped the question to long-time girlfriend Lekota Koch, an 18-year-old who graduated from high school this past spring. The two are living together and going to college, and Matt said he got her a "penguin ring" because she doesn't like fancy rings and wants something meaningful.

    Sounds like this is for real ... and there's no chance Matt and Alex will reunite for baby Bellie.



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

    We've seen these two stars going AT it in the Teen Mom 3 trailers, not to mention fighting constantly on the show. If there was ever a couple that was not meant to be together, it's Alex and Matt.

    In fact, Alex told The Stir recently in an exclusive interview that she moved an hour away from her mom just to get away from Matt. The two have no relationship these days. None. Despite being Matt's steady girlfriend for the past year -- she was around when he fell off that cliff last fall -- Lekota even says she hasn't filmed for MTV yet.

    If these two get hitched and Lekota becomes Arabella's official stepmother, that may change. It looks like Matt is back in court to try to get a visitation schedule to see his little girl.

    Could it be that he's cleaned up and grown up? Let's hope so -- if only for Arabella's sake.

    And let's hope this engagement sticks. There's no way these two parents should get together "for the kid!"

    Were you hoping for Matt and Alex to reunite? What do you think of his engagement?


    Image via MTV

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Veronica HerreraOh. Oh. OH! My heart is hurting y'all. A mother (and that is a word I use loosely) from Idaho has been convicted of murdering her 2-year-old daughter and then burning the little girl's body to hide her horrific crime. And the horror doesn't stop there.

    Veronica Herrera forced her other kids -- the 2-year-old's siblings -- to HELP burn their little sister's body! I just ... how does this happen?

    And just wait until you hear what this piece of human excrement got as punishment.

    She was facing 40 years in prison, but instead a judge handed down a 15-year fixed sentence, with another indeterminate sentence of 15 years. That SHOULD add up to 30 years, but according to reports, Herrera could serve as little as 15.

    Fifteen years? Is that all?

    For murdering a 2-year-old and then forcing children to burn their sibling's body?

    Some things about the American justice system will just never make sense to me, I guess. We send people off to do hard time for minor drug offenses, and then we let a hardcore sicko like this woman get off relatively easy.

    No murderer should get off easy -- a human life is a human life, but it's particularly upsetting when someone kills a child and then walks free in less time than it would take said child to grow up. At the absolute minimum, shouldn't there be an expectation that the offender spend as much time in jail as the child would have spent growing up? To pay for the childhood stolen?

    I hope Herrera is forced to serve both 15 years sentences and NOT concurrently -- so she actually spends all 30 years in jail. I hope ... but considering our justice system, I'm sadly not holding my breath.

    Do you think 15 years is enough for a crime this heinous?


    Image via Owyhee County Sheriff

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    gay prideAll too often we read stories about bad moms, moms who should never have kids. This isn't one of them. Michelle Conway McClain is exactly the kind of mom a kid needs; especially a kid who is in the midst of coming out.

    McClain is author of an incredible Facebook post that's gone viral this week. Maybe you've seen it? It's a photo of a letter McClain wrote to her son, Zach Gibson, after he came out. The mom from Missouri said she didn't get to talk to her son before she left for work, so she left the note on Zach's bedroom door.

    Here, I'll let you read it.

    mom's letter to gay son

    It's ... perfect. Funny. Sweet. Encouraging.

    It speaks volumes about Michelle McClain as a parent. But so does the fact that Zach came out on Facebook. According to McClain, some people have criticized him for doing so rather than telling her first, but she says she respects his choices.

    That to me speaks of a kid who is being raised in a house where he knows he's safe. He doesn't HAVE TO warn Mom first, because he knows she won't freak out; he knows she loves him.

    I wish I could pick Michelle's brain, because that's exactly how I want my daughter to feel -- that I will always love her, no matter what. Of course I want her to come to me with big issues in life, but more than that, I want her to feel loved and supported, regardless of what happens in life.

    What do you think of Michelle's letter? What would you have written?


    Images via Guillaume Paumier/Flickr; Michelle Conway McClain

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    babyI read somewhere once that life goes in seven year cycles. You change completely in seven years, including your relationships. For me it was more like nine months (give or take). I gave birth and BAM, the people who were suddenly important to me was vastly different from the people who mattered before.

    I'm not just talking about my daughter. Of COURSE she became pretty much the most important person on earth (well, to me and to her father). I'm talking about the people who became my lifeline when I was a new mom.

    Did this happen to you?

    Did you find being a new mom meant there were new people on your speed-dial, new people who began to mean ... everything?

    People like ...

    1. Your Pediatrician. It feels like you see the guy (or gal!) every other week between all the shots and the "OMG, the baby is sniffling, they must be dying" panic of new motherhood.

    2. Your Mother (or Other Maternal Figure). I seem to recall early motherhood as a string of phone conversations with my aunt. "Why is breastfeeding so hard?" "Do I really have to boil the pacifiers?" "When will she sleeeeeeeeep?"

    3. The Mailman. You probably never exchanged more than a "how's the weather" with the guy before, but now that he's the only adult conversation you get all day, he's like your BFF.

    4. The UPS Man. He brings the big boxes of diapers you find online for cheap. 'Nuff said.

    5. The Drive-Through Teller/Clerk. You used to get out of your car to bank and pick up your pharmaceuticals. Now the lady at the drive-through knows to lower her voice so she doesn't wake the sleeping baby in your backseat with that squawking mic.

    6. The Pizza Guy. Who has time to cook dinner these days? WHO?

    7. Other Moms. You might have been friends before; you might not have. But now you have so much to talk about that you didn't before.

    Did you find your relationships changed after the baby came? Who are the most important people in your life right now?


    Image via audi_insperation/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Teen Mom Katie YeagerThe fourth episode of Teen Mom 3 airs tonight on MTV, and after last week's explosion of Joey Maes' temper, the big question on every fan's mind has to be whether Katie Yeager'sdomestic violence nightmare will ever end. We've got the answer! In an exclusive sneak peek from the reality series' new episode, Katie invites Joey over for a chat about the direction of their relationship.

    Not surprisingly for the girl who planned to study psychology in Denver after high school -- before an unexpected pregnancy upended her life -- Katie comes off as the voice of reason in their turbulent relationship. Joey, on the other hand, well, just watch:

    Get More: MTV Shows


    UGH! He might have a job and a daughter, but it's pretty clear Joey is NOT an adult after a talk like that.

    We all know it's not easy to have a make-up talk after a big fight, but was it so hard for Joey to at least pretend he wanted to fix things? Here Katie is acting like the bigger person and admitting that she isn't perfect, and he can't even give her a "Yes, we should try to fix this" or at least a "Hey, I love you, I don't want to lose you."

    More From The Stir: 'Teen Mom' Star Gets Engaged -- Thank Goodness!

    He may not be throwing a true temper tantrum and terrifying us in this clip, but this is far from over -- poor Katie has her hands full with not one but two kids.

    And from the looks of the rest of tonight's episode, this is the way it is for these teen girls: they're trying their darndest to be grownups for the sake of their kids, and the boys (I can't say men, I just can't) are being dragged along kicking and screaming!

    What do you think of Joey's behavior? Do you think he can turn it around?


    Image via MTV

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    family rulesWhen our kids are born, we want to give them the world. As they grow up and find out that there are "made for TV" products, we quickly adjust our plans. We'll give them everything ... within reason. Suddenly the question is, what's within reason? Is it within reason to expect a kid to buy their own ... groceries?

    With the response one single mom is getting for her "rules" for her teenagers, it seems there are plenty of parents out there who would have no problem asking the kids to go buy their own eats.

    The mother, who is going back to school herself, posted a photo of a whiteboard listing her new family rules to Reddit. On it, she declares there is no "maid, butler, laundress, cook, valet, errand runner, or other employed help here."

    I'm with her. I'm my daughter's mother. Not her servant. I'm even with her on most of her rules -- from "to your dishes" to "pick up your mess." But she loses me when she tells her children:

    Yes, you can buy a few groceries.

    Folks, I'm a mom. It's my job to provide my child with the basic necessities. And the way I see it, that includes groceries.

    It isn't fair to burden kids with figuring out where their next meal will come from because you got too busy to hit the supermarket. It's certainly not appropriate to make your kids pay for the food in your fridge. You're still the parent. They're still the kids, especially when they're still in high school (one of her children is in college, the other a high school senior).

    Now, might I expect my teenager to buy her own eats if she goes out to the mall with her friends at 16 and hits the food court? Sure. If she's got her own job, extras like that might be on her.

    But groceries aren't extra. They're part of the three basics of human life: food, shelter, and clothing. If you can't give those to your kid, what are you doing being a parent?

    Would you require your kids buy their own groceries?


    Image via Reddit

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Marine veteran wen jonesWhat kind of person gets beaten so badly that he lands in the hospital but doesn't regret it? How about a Marineveteran whose beatdown came when he was stepping in to defend the defenseless? Wen Jones is retired military, but his military training came back to him immediately when he saw three bullies picking on a 14-year-old this past spring.

    Jones stepped in to protect the teenager ... and ended up with injuries so bad that he landed in surgery.

    Think that's crazy? Wait until you hear how the veteran feels about it all.

    Jones says he'd do it again in a heartbeat:

    I'm not happy to have been injured pretty severely, but at the same time, I ask myself, would I do it again? You know, it was the right thing to do, so I probably would.

    Even though the father of two ended up with a concussion and had to have surgery to repair fractures beneath his eye. Even though he was covered in stitches, right down to a stitched tear duct.

    Semper Fi indeed!

    It's one thing to have the chutzpah to step in when you see something wrong. Sometimes we go on pure adrenaline. It's quite another to have the wherewithal to say, yes, I'd do it again after knowing how badly things can turn out.

    A lot of people would say, ya know, maybe I would have just called the cops, waited for them to show up?

    Not Jones. I respect that. I respect a guy who wouldn't let a child go through one more minute of pain, regardless of what it would cost him to do something about it.

    Jones' story is in the news this week because cops just caught the third of the three men accused of turning on the Good Samaritan. Cody Moore Roon, Tyler Dylan Carswell, and Eric Michael Deiter were allegedly ganging up on a young black skateboarder, using racist slurs and kicking sand in his face, when the Marine veteran stepped in. Now they're facing charges of aggravated battery for jumping a man twice their age and ganging up, three 20-somethings on one 43-year-old man.

    Here's hoping the courts send them away for a good long time. Watch the video of the beatdown:

    Put yourself in Jones' shoes. Would you be saying the same thing?


    Image via WPEC

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    vaccineI can't be the only mom who has a love/hate relationship with vaccines. I love that they protect my child from deadly diseases. I hate that they make her scream bloody murder because they HURT!

    And preventing that pain isn't easy. Every time you turn around, another over-the-counter pain reliever has been recalled. So what's a mom to do when her baby is going to get his shots? When in doubt, go natural!

    Here are some easy natural pain relievers -- approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics -- to make immunizations a little easier on your little guy or girl:

    1. Dip the pacifier in sugar. I'll admit this one surprised me, but it turns out Mary Poppins was right! A spoonful of sugar does help the medicine go down -- or, at least, a sucrose solution on the pacifier does! Mix one packet of sugar in 10 ml of water to get the solution right. You can also use a syringe to put the solution directly in the mouth.

    2. Don't stress. Kids feed off our fears, even babies. According to one study, at 6 months, maternal behavior accounted for 26 percent of infant pain behavior. If you're calm about their shots, they will likely be less stressed ... and less likely to notice the pain.

    More From The Stir: 5 Tips for Helping Your Kids Deal With Pain From Injuries

    3. Apply pressure. Pressure right at the injection site has been shown to reduce the pain. It's as simple as using your finger. Hey, it works on a bug bite, doesn't it? So why not a shot? To be therapeutic, you should keep your finger in place for at least 10 seconds at the site.

    4. Ask for the shots to be given at once. If baby is getting more than one shot and there are multiple practitioners available, ask for it all to be done at once rather than one at a time. Studies have shown this helps reduce the pain.

    8 natural pain relievers for baby's shots5. Ask for a topical anesthetic. There is no perfect anesthetic to dull all the pain, but they can help. There are even some devices now that buzz on the skin rather than applying any sort of cream.

    6. Distract them. Believe it or not, it can be as simple as making sure baby doesn't see that needle going into their little thigh.

    7. Breastfeed. This goes along with distracting baby, but it also plays into something that little ones already find soothing. Bonus: one study indicates breastfed infants are less likely to suffer fever after their shots.

    8. Pop in the pacifier. Whether you use the sucrose solution mentioned above or not, simply sucking on a soother is, well, soothing!

    How do you comfort your baby during their shots?


    Image via Army Medicine/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    missing girl Elaina SteinfurthWhen news came out the other day that human remains had been found in the home missing Ohio toddler Elaina Steinfurth shared with her mom and mom's boyfriend, I think we all had the same question. Why now? Why didn't police find that box back in June, when baby Elaina went missing? They've been searching for the toddler for months now; surely they could have found this sooner?

    It seems the answer could result in even more criminal charges.

    Cops say the body was found inside a box that was behind other containers and piles of trash in a detached garage on the property Elaina's mom, Angela Mories Steinfurth, shared with her boyfriend, Steven King, property King owned. An autopsy performed last week was inconclusive, and DNA identification is expected to take several weeks, but police say they "think" the body belongs to Elaina.

    So why now?

    Well, according to Angela's stepfather, Richard Schiewe, the body was moved. Schiewe, who has pretty much said from the get-go that he thinks his granddaughter is dead, said he was there when police first searched the garage, and there was no box in the rafters.

    That explains why police didn't find it; it wasn't their ineptitude. But are you thinking what I'm thinking? Someone tampered with evidence here.

    We don't know right now if the human remains are Elaina or -- if they are -- how she died. So we can't say whether there should be murder charges.

    But for the body to have suddenly appeared where it wasn't? That means someone was purposely trying to hide it from police.

    It makes it hard to believe natural causes could be the cause for the death, for one. It also points to someone making it that much harder for the police to get to the bottom of this and give poor Elaina's father and his family the answers they so desperately need. It's like a sick game being played with their heads, and with this body, which deserves so much better.

    Whatever happens next, someone needs to be hit with charges for this.

    What do you make of the body being moved? Is someone playing games with this family?


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