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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

    Green River Killer Gary RidgwayFinally nailing the so-called Green River Killer was supposed to be a coup for cops. Gary Ridgway has been sitting in prison since he confessed to 48 murders in 2003. His confession helped him avoid the death penalty, but now he's got another equally shocking confession.

    Hold on to your hats and grab some tissues; it's a heartbreaker. The Green River Killer says he didn't kill 48 women and teenagers. He didn't kill 49 women and teenagers (another body was found in 2011). He killed a whole lot more.




    As many as 80 of them.

    At least, that's what Ridgway is saying now. The Green River Killer has almost doubled the number of murders he copped to, when prosecutors took the death penalty off the table.

    Now he claims he wants to help find all those bodies, to help give closure to the families.


    A serial killer who wants to HELP us?

    And I've got a bridge in Brooklyn, real cheap, y'all. Real cheap.

    Maybe Ridgway will help some families get closure in this. Or maybe he'll just giggle wickedly as he sends police on a wild goose chase. Who knows.

    If he really did kill 80 some women, it's a sobering reminder of the precarious position prosecutors are put in when they're trying a case. This plea deal got a monster off the streets. It gave closure to 48 families, to parents like those of young Colleen Brockman or Carrie Rois, both of whom were only 15 when they were murdered by Ridgway.

    But what about the others?

    The prosecutors had to get this guy off the streets so he didn't kill again -- and despite taking the death penalty off the table, there's no chance he'll see the light of day again. But they had to do it with what they had available at the time, to take his word on the 48 crimes.

    It's easy to criticize the police and the prosecution from the outside, but this is their day-to-day. They have to make the best bet based on some really crappy hands. I know I don't envy the position they were in then, and I certainly don't envy the one the Green River Killer has put them in now.

    Now they have to take his word if they want to give closure to more families, to find more bodies, probably more innocent kids. They have to trust a serial killer.

    What do you think police should do here? Do you think he's telling the truth?


    Image via police

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    circumcisionThese days dropping the word "circumcision" on the Internet is like yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. People. Go. NUTS.

    The thing I don't understand? Why? Why are people so concerned about what other people have done with their son's foreskin?

    I'll admit I do not have a son. I did not circumcise. Although I can't say whether I would have. The ironic thing is, although we did not know the gender of our baby-to-be, I never really thought about whether or not we'd snip his little manhood.

    The point is, I don't have a dog in the fight.

    And so I feel like I can say this: standing on the outside, looking in? I think you're all nuts.

    Not nuts for circumcising, per se. Not nuts for NOT circumcising, either.

    Nuts for letting this become such a controversial issue.

    Writer Mark Joseph Stern over at Slate posited this week that the problem is that a "fringe group of intactivists" has managed to overthrow sane discussion of a personal procedure, drowning out the facts. Said Stern:

    There are plenty of other loud fringe groups that flood the Internet with false information, but none of them has been as successful as the intactivists at drowning out reasoned discourse. In the case of circumcision, the marketplace of ideas has been manipulated—and thanks to intactivists, the worst ideas have won out.

    His dissection of the facts vs. rumors is interesting (and worth a read), but I think he misses one salient point: why do parents care about what the other side has done?

    And they do care.

    Circumcision posts here on The Stir tend to draw comments in the hundreds, most of them heated.

    I've seen moms who chose to circumcise referred to with the sort of words that make you ask, "Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?" Over HER son's penis.

    HER son.

    Not their son's.

    And not her penis for that matter. Her SON'S.

    Folks, why does it matter whether your neighbor's son's penis is intact or snipped? Does it change anything about YOUR son's penis? Will it change how they interact in kindergarten or on the football team? Will it give him an edge over your kid to grab student council president or that VFW scholarship?

    In case I have to spell it out for you, the answer is no.

    There are certainly some parental issues that become community property because one parent's action (or inaction) has a clear effect on other parent's children. Case in point: vaccinations. One sick kid makes another kid sick. As long as kids are catching deadly diseases that could be prevented, consider it open season on vaccines.

    But we simply cannot apply that same rubric to circumcision. Aside from two toddler boys comparing penises on the playground (because, yes, it happens), what could one mom's decision possibly have to do with another mom's decision? Or dad's decision, for that matter?

    From outside the batting cages, I've got to say it to all of y'all: get over it. Make your decision about circumcision, and tell the rest of the world it's none of their darn business what you decided. Then keep your trap shut about what they decided.

    Have you waded into the circumcision fight? WHY?


    Image via David/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    lakeThere's nothing more frustrating for police than a case that's gone cold. But the shocking discovery of two cars submerged in an Oklahoma lake has blown wide open not one but two cold cases, one dating back all the way to the 1950s! Police say both cars pulled from Foss Lake contained human skeletal remains, and they're working to identify six bodies, including three teenagers rumored to be kids who have been missing since the '70s. 

    They're kids who left one day and never came home. And now, finally, their parents may have some answers.

    Police say they've identified one of the cars, a 1969 Chevy Camaro, as the one that belonged to 16-year-old Jimmy Allen Williams, who was last seen driving in Sayre with two friends, 18-year-old Thomas Rios and 18-year-old Leah Johnson. The cops have not officially identified the teenagers as three of the six bodies as relatives still need to be reached. Nor have they identified the three adults from the other car, although they're thought to be a 69-year-old man and his two friends who went missing in the state in the late 1950s or early 1960s. 

    But as more answers come out of Foss Lake and cops reopen these cold cases, there's a clear message to families across the country, families whose mysteries have never been answered: don't give up hope.

    Yes, these people are all dead. Tragically. Sadly.

    It's far from a perfect or even happy ending. But there is certainly something to be said for the power of closure, for peace.

    These children's parents let them go out for a car ride and never saw them again. Now, finally, they know what happened to their kids. It's been 40 years, but it's never too late for that. 

    Do you have experience with a cold case? What happened?


    Image via Glen Scoffield Williams/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Rehtaeh ParsonsWhen it comes to a parent's nightmares, they don't get much worse. Imagine your child commits suicide after being victimized by rapists and bullies both. Then imagine you open up Facebook one day to see her face staring back at you from a dating ad. Welcome to the newest horror in Rehtaeh Parsons' parents' life: stolen photos being used to sell things on the Internet.

    The teen's sad story become international news when she hanged herself after being gang-raped by four teenagers, after being mocked on the Internet in a case markedly similar to the Steubenville rape case. And now it's back, shoved into the spotlight, her parents forced to relive their trauma all over again, because some jerk decided to steal their dead child's photo to try to sell folks on Internet dating.

    The site, ionechat.com, is no longer live, and its Facebook page has been deleted. Facebook itself has banned them and called the incident "unfortunate."

    I'd go further than that.




    Stealing photos on the Internet has caused enough people heartache over the years, but it really tops out the sick-o-meter when you take a dead child's photo and try to use it to make some money.

    Didn't they think about this kid's family? About what it would be like for Glen Canning to turn on his computer and see his little girl staring back at him from an offer to "Find love in Canada!" Because apparently Rehtaeh's dad did see them, even though they were pulled within two hours when people made complaints to Facebook. As he said on his blog:

    I am completely bewildered and disgusted by this. This is my daughter, Rehtaeh. They have her in an ad for meeting singles. I don’t even know what to say.

    I don't think there are words out there to describe the injustice of that man having to go through that ... after all he's already endured. 

    He deserved better. Parents who have lost children always deserve better. There are few people in this world I have more sympathy for than parents who have lost their children.

    Why didn't these people?

    Have you ever seen one of your photos being used online? What did you do?


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    homeschool deskThere are plenty of good reasons to homeschool your kid out there. Local school district doesn't have great academics? Check. Got a kid whose needs aren't being met by the district? Check. Homeschool can be a great thing for parents and kids alike.

    But I've noticed a trend among homeschooling parents. Anytime ANYTHING happens at a school, even a one-off, silly thing that was a one in a million chance, they jump at the chance to tell us public school parents what idiots we are and how GLAD they are that they had the foresight to educate their kid at home.

    Overcompensating much, folks?

    Here's the thing. I hear you! Homeschooling is great (for some families), but not everything is a "great reason to homeschool your kids." And every time you overreact to a story in the news by jumping on the "OMG, homeschool" soapbox, you make a bad name for the whole homeschooling community.

    In fact, I'll come right out and say it, there are a whole host of parents out there who have some absolutely ridiculous reasons for homeschooling:

    1. The teacher is gay. Having a gay teacher won't make your kid gay any more than having a straight teacher will guarantee they're straight. Yes, it's true. You COULD have a gay kid ... 3.8 percent of the population does.

    2. The school lunch isn't nutritious. Brown bags were invented a looooong time ago. Use them.

    3. There's no prayer in schools. There are going to be a lot of places in life where your child shouldn't pray. Time and place, folks, time and place.

    4. To escape vaccinations. It's true; most schools these days require kids to get immunized. But then, immunizations have been shown to decrease the risk of deadly diseases by as much as 100 percent in some cases.

    5. To protect them from bullies. If there's a specific instance of bullying, and you've tried working with the school district to no avail, then by all means, pull your kid. But if you don't even give your kids the CHANCE to interact with the kids in a school setting because you assume they're "bad," what is the lesson you're teaching your kids about the world at large?

    6. To protect them from standardized testing. I'm not a big fan of these tests myself, but you don't necessarily have to homeschool to avoid them. The opt out movement is growing, and there are a lot of great resources on how to work with your kids' public school and still avoid the tests.

    7. Because you're afraid of socialization. Yes, I know plenty of homeschool kids get to socialize with other homeschool kids, and being a homeschooled kid doesn't mean you're cut off from society and blah, blah, blah. But there's an actual list of "reasons to homeschool" out there that has labeled socialization dangerous because one dictionary defines it as "to place under government or group ownership or control." Put down your tinfoil hat and put that kid on a bus, pronto!

    8. The school requires uniforms. I hate the idea of uniforms; I really do. They're expensive for a family that depends on hand-me-downs, and they limit a kid's creativity. But it's a t-shirt and pants, not a scarlet letter. Kids need to learn to follow rules in life, and this is one of them.

    Would you homeschool your kids for any of these reasons?


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Ayvani Hope Perez There was a collective sigh of relief yesterday when the Atlantateenager kidnapped in front of her mom was returned home. Ayvani Perez is safe. Thank goodness. Now for the bad news. Ayvani's mom has officially been linked to the suspects.

    Maria Magdalena Corral was once arrested with Juan Alberto Contreras-Rodriguez, who has been described as a 40-year-old Mexican national! The two were caught up in a multi-person, multi-count drug-trafficking case in early 2012.

    Ayvani's mother's case never went past arrest -- she wasn't indicted, and her lawyer claims she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. But get this, the lawyer said Corral was "talking in the driveway" with Contreras-Ramirez when the arrests occurred.

    So she may not have been a baddie, but she seems to have known at least one of the two men -- the other suspect is Wildrego Jackson, 29, of Atlanta -- accused of busting into her home this week and kidnapping her daughter.

    Which means, what?

    Police, of course, will have to figure that out. Was she involved? Possibly. I don't mean to cast aspersions on her character; it's simply one thing cops will have to investigate. It's just as likely that this was a sick sort of revenge exacted against her out of anger that she got out of the charges. We'll know soon enough.

    What this link between mom and suspects already presents to a community is an explanation that should enable them to sleep at night. This wasn't random. This wasn't a case of men going house to house looking for kids to steal.

    This was a case of bad men doing something bad ... to someone they knew, someone they had history with.

    It's not an excuse or a valid reason for breaking into someone's home and holding their child hostage, of course. I'm not giving these guys a free pass on their alleged crimes. But as a mother who does what mothers do -- gets nervous about the potential for this sort of crime to happen to me, in my home -- I'll admit to a feeling of relief when a link can be made between the family and the suspect.

    Think of it this way: kidnappings where a child is taken by someone known to the family are awful, but they're more likely to leave a trail of breadcrumbs, so to speak, for cops to follow. They're easier to solve because they're not random. Just look at Ayvani, home, safe. Thank goodness.

    I'd prefer no child was kidnapped at all, but nearly 800,000 children are reported missing each year. It happens.

    So we cling to second-best: that the kidnappers make it easier on cops; that kids make it home.

    And that they then spend a looooong time in jail, of course.

    What do you think of the link between this girl's mom and her alleged abductors?


    Image via Clayton County Police

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Maci Bookout Ryan EdwardsIf you ever wanted to give a Teen Mom star a piece of your mind, grab your phone. Ryan Edwards, aka the former fiance of Maci Bookout, seems to have given the entire world his phone number.

    Either Bentley's daddy is really brave, really mean ... or really stupid! Take your pick!

    Ryan shared the number via a tweet this week, telling his 389,000-plus followers:


    Text or call me 240-528-4579

    — Ryan Edwards MTV (@ryancedwards) September 18, 2013


    The number was retweeted nearly 100 times, quickly spreading across the Internet.

    It's highly possible that this isn't actually the Teen Mom star's number. He hails from Tennessee, but 240 is an area code associated with the western half of Maryland.

    He could have an out-of-area cell number, but it's just as likely that Ryan could be pranking someone by subjecting them to the inevitable flurry of phone calls that are to be expected when a celebrity's phone number gets released.

    More From The Stir: Joey Maes Can't Handle Sexy Katie Yeager

    At least, we're hoping Ryan would realize that there would be a flurry of phone calls if that happened? And maybe worse? He's no stranger, after all, to the tricks identity thieves employ to mess with reality stars.

    This is the guy who made a YouTube video to announce that he'd joined Twitter so that people could see and hear him talking about his official account. In it, former girlfriend Dalis Connell spouted off at the creators of a fake Ryan Edwards Facebook account

    He can't be stupid enough not to realize he'd have a mess on his hands if he let out his real number.

    Which leaves us with two options: brave or mean.

    Brave if it's his. Mean if it's someone else's.

    What do you think? Are you going to give the number a try?


    Image via Instagram

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Marilyn EdgeThe mother accused of killing her two children in a California hotel room over the weekend has made a bizarre request to a judge. Marilyn Edge, who is facing murder charges for poisoning her 13-year-old autistic son and 9-year-old daughter, allegedly told a judge she wants the death penalty.

    Sadly, this comes from a woman who police say they arrested after she attempted to commit suicide by crashing her car. At the time, Edge allegedly made remarks that led police back to a hotel room where they found little Faith and Jaelen Edge dead.

    Their mom and dad were going through a custody battle, and reports indicate Marilyn Edge was desperate to keep her kids away from her ex-husband back in Georgia, even though a judge had granted him joint custody. 

    Why she was so desperate isn't clear. Although there have been reports of alleged sexual abuse by the dad, the courts said Dad was an OK guy, at least OK enough to get to see his kids once in awhile.

    What IS clear is that murder-suicide is not the answer.

    Neither is the death penalty for this mom.

    At least not in this case. I'm not here to have a debate about whether or not the death penalty is appropriate overall. But in this case, we have a woman who tried to commit suicide. She has made it her mission to die.

    In that case, she needs mental help. Serious mental help. It would be a failure on the part of the justice system to not consider the mental health issues of the defendant.

    What's more, she does not need the death penalty. That's not a punishment for someone who wants to die -- it's an easy way out. Heck, a punishment someone asks for is not a punishment at all -- whether it's the death penalty or just regular old jail time.

    Do you think Edge should get the death penalty if convicted? What should happen to her?


    Image via Santa Ana Police

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    babyAs if busy moms needed another thing to worry about, a mother has been chastised for breastfeeding ... in front of her son's teacher. Rachel Rainbolt says she was doing what moms do -- trying to meet both her kids' needs -- when she breastfed her baby boy during a parent-teacher conference. Only the teacher and Rachel's two kids were present, so who had the hissy?

    You guessed it ... the teacher.

    According to Rainbolt, the educator (who is female, by the way) looked at her and said:

    Do you know what a breastfeeding cover is? That's not appropriate to do here. Aren't you concerned that people will stare?

    Oh come off it, lady! At least Mom bothered to show for the parent/teacher conference. How many parents don't -- and not because they don't care but because they have so much going on that they can barely find time to breathe?

    Being a good mom takes a lot of work. I think everyone in this world recognizes that -- or should. I've been doing it eight years now, and I haven't figured out all the secrets. But the one thing I DO know is absolutely necessary is the ability tomulti-task.

    You quiz them on their spelling words while you stir a pot on the stove. You tuck the phone between your cheek and your shoulder so you can make a pediatrician appointment while you are changing a diaper. You breastfeed your baby during your older child's parent/teacher conference.

    I understand that not everyone in the child-free community gets that. It's hard to put yourself in our shoes sometimes. But if you're someone who works with parents day in and day out, you should have keyed into how it works. More than that, you should be willing to help us keep all those balls in the air -- because we're not just doing it for us and for our kids; we're doing it for you too. We're showing up at parent/teacher conferences come hell or high water ... or hungry babies.

    Would you breastfeed during a parent-teacher conference? Was this teacher out of line?


    Image via mnsc/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    empty school desksI knew the form was coming, but that didn't make it any easier when it arrived. Illegal Absence. I never knew a piece of paper could mom shame, but it did.

    Technically, it's telling the truth. I am taking my kid out of school for what the state has deemed an "illegal absence." That I talked to her teacher on meet the teacher night and emailed her about our upcoming trip doesn't matter. Nor does the fact that said teacher is putting together a packet of homework to do on the trip.

    It's still "illegal."

    I don't do anything illegal.

    OK. I speed. Sometimes. Not with the kid in the car!

    But that's pretty much the extend of my bad-assery, folks. I'm a straight arrow who was voted class angel in high school (yes, really). 

    So the word "illegal" bugs me. Big time.

    Not just because I feel ashamed, although I do. Wait, actually, let me correct that. It IS because I feel ashamed.

    I hate my kid's school and the state education department for making me feel ashamed of spending time with my daughter.

    People! We're taking her out of school for five days for a family vacation, on which she'll see other parts of the country, eat different foods, and do a load of reading (yes, we're driving). We're not making her walk over hot coals while eating fried worms dipped in Tabasco.

    Why is this "illegal"?

    Because it's during the school year, and kids belong in school every day of the school year? Sorry, but even as a staunch supporter of public education, I disagree. I think there's something to be said for education outside of the classroom, and certainly something to be said for the value of family time.

    These days, there isn't enough of the latter. About 60 percent of two-parent households with children under age 18 have two working parents, and 56 percent of mothers and 50 percent of fathers say juggling work and family life is difficult for them.

    Family vacations offer valuable time for parents and kids to reconnect. Why not do that when school is out of session, you might ask? Did I mention all those two-parent-working families? Do you know how many of us are vying with one another for time off during the same exact school breaks? Statistically, it's impossible for all of us to do it, and this year, the only time my husband and I could both get off for a stretch of time was, you guessed it, during the school year.

    I know we're not alone. I put out a Facebook query to friends to ask if anyone else had done a school-time vacation, asking how to broach it with our district, and I had a deluge of advice-givers.

    These are all good parents, parents who value their kids' education. They're all parents who, like me, sought out their children's teachers and got their kids' assignments ahead of time so their kiddos wouldn't fall behind. Several chose -- as I did -- to make their vacation plans in the fall when classwork still tends to be focused on a review of the year before rather than a true representation of this year's curriculum.

    The term "illegal absence" is unfair to parents like them, to parents like me, parents who are doing what we feel is best for our kids. It lumps us in with the truly bad parents -- you know the type, the ones who just can't be bothered to put down the crack pipe and get their kids out of bed in the morning to get on the bus.

    It shames us for something that should be celebrated: giving kids a varied education that includes trips outside their hometown, for wanting to devote our time and energies to being WITH our kids.

    Does your kids' school label vacations illegal? Do you do it anyway?


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    growing upWhen you have a kid, you expect them to change. That's all part and parcel of growing up. But the closer my daughter gets to the teen years, the more I'm realizing change is an understatement. She isn't just changing. She is doing a total 180 on me!

    Everything I thought I "knew" about parenting a "little kid" is going out the window, along with (small) chunks of my sanity. Just look at how kids change!

    1. Then: Telling them to shower was akin to telling them to walk on hot coals.

    Now: The hot water is all gone, and still you can't get them out.

    2. Then: You couldn't get them to close the gosh darn door.

    Now: You can't get them to OPEN their bedroom door.

    3. Then: You couldn't get them to stay in bed.

    Now: You'd think they were chained to the bed with the time they spend in there.

    4. Then: They talked. CONSTANTLY.

    Now: They grunt and say "whatever" a lot.

    5. Then: You had never felt smarter; they thought you knew EVERYTHING.

    Now: You're an IDIOT, Mom [eye roll, sigh].

    6. Then: Vegetables were poison plants from Jupiter.

    Now: They're dabbling in veganism.

    7. Then: They were bright eyed and bushy tailed when you needed five more minutes, just five more minutes.

    Now: See above regarding chained to the bed.

    8. Then: They can't wait to get on the bus to see their friends.

    Now: Oh, Mom, why do I have to ride the bus? It's so embarrassing!

    9. Then: She wanted to grow up to marry Daddy, and you thought it was just so darn cute.

    Now: She's talking about marrying this guy, and you're out of your freakin' mind disturbed.

    10. Then: The biggest dangers to your clothes were fingerpaint spills and jelly handprints.

    Now: What clothes? You haven't seen that sweater in months.

    What has your kid done a 180 on?


    Image by Jeanne Sager

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    JonBenet Ramsey JonBenet Ramsey has been dead nearly 17 years now. The 6-year-old pageant queen was found in her Colorado home way back in 1996. So why the heck are reporters making a big deal about a grand jury indictment in the child's case now? Suing to get their hands on it? Haven't this girl's parents had enough?

    The lawsuit filed against Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett comes from a press advocacy group and a Boulder Daily Camera reporter. It alleges at least two members of the grand jury voted to indict Patsy and John Ramsey, JonBenet's parents, and that the public has a right to know

    But as we all do know, the Ramseys were never indicted. They were never taken to trial. So why now?

    The reporter in me wants to side with the plaintiffs in this case. This case clearly has a public interest, and opening a sealed indictment would seem fitting in terms of governmental transparency.

    But then there's the human in me that wonders, when is enough enough? When do we let private matters stay private? When is it not enough that we're "interested" to justify a free press?

    Patsy Ramsey is dead; she died nearly 10 years after her daughter, felled by ovarian cancer. Opening up an indictment, proving that then-DA Alex Hunter refused to sign off on it, won't suddenly get her arrested.

    As for John Ramsey, let's face it, it's been 17 years, and the man seems miserable. He pops up in the media every few years, and he's clearly haunted by his daughter's death. 

    Wouldn't you be?

    Let's say he did it. This is purely conjecture -- I'm not accusing anyone here. But let's just say he did. He doesn't act like a man who is pleased as punch to have gotten away with it. He's had his own punishment of sorts, whether he deserved it or not.

    Not to mention outing the indictment won't change a thing. We've already heard the DA refused to move forward because there wasn't enough evidence in the case. And, news flash y'all, you actually need evidence to get a court of law to convict someone. Getting this indictment out in the open won't magically make that evidence appear.

    So I ask again: what's the point?

    Why are these parents, well, this parent, being subjected to this torture all over again? Just to meet our country's insatiable appetite for salacious gossip?

    What do you think? Should the indictment be forced out into the open or be left alone?


    Image via Barry Williams/Getty Images

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Kailyn Lowry Javi MarroquinIt's heeeeeeere! Kailyn Lowry and Javi Marroquin's wedding weekend is here! C'mon, Teen Mom 2 fans, you know you're excited for everyone's favorite pregnant Teen Mom to get married! Well, OK, remarried.

    The big to-do set for September 21, aka this Saturday, is wedding number two for Kail and Javi, who technically tied the knot in a quickie ceremony last year. But this is the real deal, with bridesmaids, the big gown, and everything, and here's everything we know about the big day:

    1. Where's it going down: Kail hails from Pennsylvania, so it's only natural that she'd get married in the Keystone State. It looks like they'll be in the Philadelphia area according to Javi, who tweeted back in July that he was struggling to find a hotel suite for his groomsmen in the City of Brotherly Love.

    2. Where they're registered: The couple registered at Bed, Bath & Beyond, and despite a snafu when someone put up a fake registry, their gift requests were being filled pretty quickly.

    More From The Stir: Crazy 'Teen Mom' Star Shares Phone Number With Thousands of Fans

    3. Who's in the wedding party: It's going to be a big, fat Guatemalan wedding, and Javi's best man is his brother, Sal Marroquin, and his brother-in-law Kyle Duch is one of his groomsmen. At one point Kail was talking about having eight bridesmaids, and in a recent photo that she labeled "half of my bridesmaids," she was hanging with her pals Christina Pietrobon, Gigi, and Toni.

    4. The skinny on the ceremony: The happy couple is doing it all in an aquarium with sharks. And they're writing their own vows. Kail already read hers to Isaac (and got an "I do").

    5. Who's NOT helping the couple: Chelsea Houska and her friend Landon offered to help Kailyn's bridal party with their hair, but MTV said no.

    6. Who's on the guest list: Teen Mom 3 star Briana Dejesus and sister Brittany got an official invite, and Kailyn has referred to the big day as an MTV reunion, so it's expected that other stars of the show will be on hand. Considering she attended Leah Calvert's wedding to husband Jeremy (yup, they were there, but MTV hid them), here's guessing they're high on that list!

    7. Who's footing the bill: MTV might be taping the wedding, but Kail has made it pretty clear that she and Javi are financially stable ... and they're paying for this shindig.

    8. The decor: The tables will all be decorated with photographs ... of the bridge and groom!

    9. The hashtag: Want to follow along? Everyone involved in the wedding is tweet with the #KaviWedding hashtag.

    Congratulations to the happy couple!


    Image via Twitter

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    baby formula bottleWhen I gave birth to my daughter, I knew being a mom would be hard. But I don't know that I realized where the hardships would be, that day in and day out, some of the toughest parts of motherhood would have nothing to do with my baby girl and everything to do with other moms ... judgmental moms. The kind blogger Blair Koenig of STFU, Parents has termed the "sanctimommies." These are the kinds of moms who tell women who are using formula that they're taking the easy way out just because, well, they're MEAN!

    But it's easy to get caught up in the negative. I'll admit it. I do it. I spend my days begging moms to be nice to each other ... but what better way to really do it than to be positive? Instead of telling each other what NOT to say, I wonder, is it time to tell people what TO say?

    So here it is. If you know a "formula mom," here's what you SHOULD be saying to her:

    1. I've got these formula samples that I can't use. Any chance you want them?

    Why you should say it: Well, first off, because formula is expensive, and there's no point in letting that stuff go to waste! But more than that, this lets her know you support a mom's right to choose.

    2. It's awesome that your husband can help too!

    Why you should say it: Because moms need to give themselves a break. Splitting parenting duties is a good thing!

    8 things formula feeding moms need to hear3. Hey, can I get your advice on bottle nipples?

    Why you should say it: Maybe she didn't do well at breastfeeding, and she's feeling a little down about not knowing how to do a "mom thing," but this puts her back in the power seat. She's an expert at something!

    4. You know, I had the worst case of thrush (or other breastfeeding horror story).

    Why you should say it: There's a tendency among some breastfeeding moms (not all) to be a little condescending when a mom says she struggled with nursing. Acknowledging it's not all unicorns and glitter gives you two common ground.

    5. I'm going to be using formula when I go back to work. Any tips on the best buys?

    Why you should say it: It's all about finding common ground.

    6. I was formula fed, and I turned out just fine. 

    Why you should say it: Well, look at you! Who wouldn't want to turn out like you? You're pretty awesome, and so is her baby.

    7. So, have you heard about that thing in the Middle East?

    Why you should say it: Because you don't have to talk about Mom things all the time. You know that, right? You can just talk about THINGS.

    8. Nothing.

    Why you should say it: If you don't have anything nice to say ...

    Do you use formula? What do you wish your friends would say to you instead of all that negativity?


    Image via misspupik/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    school busIf your kids' school sent home a permission slip asking for them to take part in a slavery re-enactment on a field trip, what would you do? Freak? Now what if the school sent your kid off to "play" slaves, complete with "masters" chasing you through the woods, screaming the "n-word" ... and didn't warn you?

    Parents of seventh graders at a Connecticut school are hopping mad right now because they say that's exactly what happened to their kids. They sent their kids off on a four-day trip to the Nature's Classroom in Charlton, Massachusetts, with their school, and the kids came home shell-shocked.

    According to mom Sandra Baker, her daughter -- who is black -- was forced to play a slave in a re-enactment that included being told:

    Bring those (n-word) to the house over there. (N-word) if you can read, there's a problem. Dumb, dark-skinned (n-word). How dare you look at me?

    No child should be put through that -- history lesson or no history lesson. Could you imagine signing your kid up for that?

    The Bakers said they didn't. They OK'd a field trip, not an evening of racist cruelty.

    I tend to believe them. What parent in their right mind would OK something like that?

    I'm upset on their behalf, on their daughter's behalf, and more than a little uneasy on the behalf of parents everywhere. If this is the kind of thing a school doesn't think they have to run past parents, what else could we be signing our kids up for when we send them on a field trip?

    I'll cop to having just signed on the dotted line when the permission slip comes home. I've figured it's a trip for kids, the school must know that it's appropriate, right? Right?

    Clearly not always. This should never have happened to the kids from the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy, nor should it happen to any kid, anywhere.

    Does your kids' school spell out what will happen on a field trip?


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    NYPDTwo little girls were put through one of the worst ordeals possible this week, and the father of one of the girls may be to blame. Police in New York City say the kids found their mom dead in the family's home in Brooklyn. They'd run out to grab some fast food and returned in just 15 minutes to find their mom, Sellis Gonzales, had been shot six times.

    Khadija Gonzales and her little sister, Alyssa, called the police to tell them they'd discovered their mom covered in blood. Cops are now hunting for their chief suspect in the brutal murder -- the father of one of the sisters!

    What a monster!

    Not only are cops saying Eric McCormick shot his ex-girlfriend, but he left her there, dead, and covered in blood ... for his child and her sister to find.

    Who does that?

    OK, maybe that's a stupid question. A person sick enough to shoot a woman six times -- three bullets to the head and three to the midsection -- clearly is not someone you depend upon for common sense or even human compassion. But his problem was obviously with the mom.

    Why did he have to do this to her children? The killer had to know the girls, ages 5 and 15, would see their mother that way. They'd run out for all of 15 minutes to grab some chicken from a local fast food joint. The killer had to see them go to know that the coast was clear, that he could enter the apartment and do his dirty deed to their mom. Hence, he had to know they were coming back.

    This was a crime against this woman. A horrible crime.

    But it was also a crime against these two little girls. They lost their mother, and they were forced to see something no child should have to see.

    The killer -- whether it's the aforementioned father of one of the girls or some stranger -- should be punished for murder, but that's not all. He should receive extra punishment for what he's done to those children.

    What do you think they should do with the killer?



    Image via Sean MacEntee/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    playdateOh, playdates, how do I love thee. You're about as close to free babysitting as a mama can get. But not every playdate is created equal, something I'm learning as my daughter branches out beyond the children of friends. Some parents, it seems, are awfully demanding about what goes on at your house.

    And by demanding, I don't mean asking you to follow allergy protocols (that's pretty normal) or keep your language clean (come on, parents!). I mean there are parents out there who want you to change your whole life, for their kid.

    Haven't had this happen yet? Consider yourself lucky, because parents were more than willing to share some of the oddest requests they've gotten from parents before a playdate, and they're truly bizarre:

    1. My son has a friend whose parents don't allow their child to be exposed to any violence at all, which is understandable. I'm not letting my kid watch violent TV either! But they requested that he not be allowed to play tag at my house because it's too violent. Come on!

    2. My daughter wanted to have a friend over, and I said I'd talk to her parents. The parents wanted demanded I turn off my WiFi so their kid wouldn't be exposed to radiation.

    More From The Stir: 10 Most Annoying Things Kids Do on Playdates

    3. "A friend rings me up and tells me that her [daughter] had a friend over ... family is vegetarian. But she tells me that the parents came to pick up the kid and they flipped out when they heard from their DD that the family had served sausages and eggs for breakfast. Their DD had fruit and cereal and eggs. No one even offered her meat. The dad told her that he thought is was very rude and inconsiderate of her to eat meat in front of their kid."

    4. My daughter's friend's parents have a rule that no adult is allowed to use a cellphone in front of their child, and when my daughter wanted her to come over to our house, the parents expected me to comply. I did for my daughter's sake, but I think it's a little ridiculous. 

    5. I know a mom who refuses to tell her kid "no." And she expects the parents of her kid's friends not to say it either!

    6. I won't let my daughter eat yogurt at other kid's houses because it's always full of sugar. It might as well be ice cream. I guess other parents are less controlling than me.

    7. My daughter's friend lives in a TV-free home, which is cool, I guess. But when they found out I was watching TV while the kids were playing -- in another room, I might add -- the mom flipped out. I think I should be allowed to watch TV in my own house!

    8. When I called the mom of my daughter's friend to ask if she could come over, the mom asked if her younger daughter could come. Thinking she was asking if the little girl could tag along, I said "yes." The more the merrier, right? It turns out the mom was sending the younger sister instead! Apparently the little girl is jealous that her big sister has playdates and she doesn't. I felt bad, but the little girl is four years younger than my daughter, and they aren't friends! She really wanted to play with HER friend. It was like a bait and switch.

    What's the strangest playdate request you've received?


    Image by Jeanne Sager

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Emmy Awards Cory Monteith tributeThe Emmy Awardstribute to Cory Monteith had created a surprising amount of controversy before the awards show even aired. Some, like Jack Klugman's son Adam, accused the ceremony's producers of glorifying someone who died at his own hands. And then, Jane Lynch got up onstage and told it like it is: her Glee co-star wasn't perfect. He was a drug addict who died because of his addiction.

    It wasn't your typical tribute. Memorials tends to speak in glowing terms of the deceased.

    But in telling the truth about how Cory Monteith died, Lynch did something better.

    She made the tribute to Cory mean something more to the world than just a chance to remember a good actor.

    As Lynch said:

    Cory was a beautiful soul. He was not perfect, which many of us here tonight can relate to. His death is a tragic reminder of the rapacious, senseless destruction that is brought on by addiction.

    Tonight we remember Cory for all he was and mourn the loss of all he could have been.

    And there it is, folks: why mourning Cory Monteith in front of a world's audience made sense.

    Klugman's son had accused the ceremony's producers of playing to a "youth-centric culture that has an extremely short attention span and panders to only a very narrow demographic."

    Lynch's tribute to her Glee co-star was the very opposite. It was a warning to the youth of America, an arrow straight to their hearts: life is short; don't screw around.

    Monteith's death wasn't part of the natural course of things. He wasn't an elderly man who'd contributed decades of work to the entertainment industry, only to die peacefully of something related to his age. Is he someone today's youth can relate to better than someone who hasn't graced a television screen in years? Perhaps, but that's all the more reason why the Emmy's tribute worked. There was a stark difference between the tribute to Monteith and those to Jonathan Winters and Jean Stapleton that preceded it.

    Winters and Stapleton had done much, gotten far.

    They were old.

    And their tributes were uncomplicated by talk of "imperfection" and "addiction."

    Cory Monteith died before he got to do most of what he could have done. His youth, his superstardom, was not enough to save him.

    And to cement just what it was we lost, Lynch offered a reminder that there was more to Monteith than just the drugs:

    All that warmth and that charm, that open-hearted quality that we loved in Cory was no act. This gifted and wonderful young man was worthy of your love.

    If you were lucky enough to know Cory as we did and witness firsthand Cory's goofy, breezy sense of humor, his natural instinct for inclusiveness and his unbridled sense of generosity day in and day out, I promise, you'd have loved him even more.

    What did you think of the tribute to Cory? Was it appropriate?


    Image via Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Melissa Nicole JonesThere's an old saying about how no man is an island. It means we all have to reach out sometimes, depend on other people. But for one single mom of two from Georgia, reaching out in a family crisis turned into a nightmare. Her neighbors, her tenants, have been arrested, accused of raping her autistic 10-year-old son, while they were babysitting the boy. 

    The mother, whose full name is being withheld to protect the identity of her child as he is the victim of sexual assault, is obviously distraught. And from the sounds of it, she's blaming herself for leaving her autistic 10-year-old with Melissa Nicole Jones and Matthew Wilson Freethy-Swimm, the couple accused of sexually assaulting him.

    But she shouldn't. She was a mom just doing what she had to do, split between her two kids as one needed to go to the doctor and the other needed a sitter. How was she to know these people who were offering to be good Samaritans to a mom in need were wolves in sheep's clothing?

    The sad reality of life is: anyone could be a monster. The worst ones often tend to be the best at hiding their inner demons.

    It isn't this mom's fault, and anyone who thinks so is ridiculous. We all have emergencies in life, and single mom or not, we all have times when we need to reach out and blindly trust others because we have no darn choice.

    The important thing is that the people we are trusting recognize the import of what we're asking of them and rise to the occasion.

    According to the charges, Melissa Nicole Jones and Matthew Wilson Freethy-Swimm did not rise to the occasion when their landlord asked them to watch her 10-year-old so she could deal with an emergency with her other child. They fell.

    Police have charged the couple both with felony statutory rape and child molestation. The man was additionally charged with aggravated assault and the woman with sexual battery. The man allegedly held a knife to the poor boy's throat while Melissa allegedly sexually abused the child. They're accused of later bragging about taking the boy's "virginity."

    They are being held in jail without bail and face substantial time in prison if convicted. Meanwhile this mom and her two boys have to pick up the pieces, try to get their lives back, to try to learn to trust other people again. Hopefully the monsters being sent away will help ... will remind this mom that it's not her fault that this happened; it's theirs.

    Have you ever had to trust someone on blind faith? What happened?


    Image via police

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    homecoming queen tiaraA high school in California has voted their first ever trangender student as their homecoming queen! Cassidy Lynn Campbell was born male but identifies as female, and the 16-year-old's classmates are so OK with it that she won the popular vote for queen at Marina High School in Huntington Beach over the weekend. Let's hear it for a new generation of kids with open minds and open hearts!

    And, while we're celebrating, can we talk about the mother of this high schooler for a second? Cassidy's mom deserves a big hug and a pat on the back.

    She knew what her daughter was up against, and she backs her 100 percent. As Christine Campbell, told Reuters:

    I never thought that in my lifetime I'd experience an event like this, and especially for the event to be my girl. It's been difficult, amazing, and emotional all at the same time. I'm so proud of her and not just because she's my daughter -- she could be anybody's daughter today. I look at a lot of things differently now.

    I think we're all looking at things differently now. We look at our kids and see so much promise, but we have fears too. Bullying is nothing new, but it's certainly all the more prominent in the news.

    Sending any kid off to school, you worry that they will be victimized.

    Now imagine sending your transgender teen off to school.

    Imagine your transgender teen breaks ground as the first at her school. Then, on top of it, she asks if she can run for homecoming, bringing even MORE attention to herself, risking even more hurt in a society that's still woefully behind in its understanding of gender identity.

    What would you do?

    Would you follow in Christine Campbell's footsteps and say, "Sure, kid, go for it. Mom has got your back!"

    Tough question.

    You want to support your kids' dreams, but it's not easy parenting a trailblazer. They're dodging bullets, right and left, and all you want to do is throw a blanket over their head and herd them off to the car, take them home, and put them in bed with a bowl of chicken noodle soup and a hot cup of tea.

    But what does that teach a kid? To give up?

    It may be the easy route, but it's not the one that will help your kid in the long run.

    Cassidy has gotten a lot of flak, even with her classmates' obvious backing. She uploaded a heartbreaking video to YouTube over the weekend, still clad in her sash and tiara, crying at the incessant bullying:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    But she's been raised well, has a good head on her shoulders, something made all the more obvious by a statement on her Twitter account:

    my goal isnt to be famous, its to open peoples eyes to the world around them, to teach people to be open minded and to rethink social norms

    — Cassidy Lynn (@xocassidylynn) September 11, 2013

    Bravo, kid. Bravo.

    That comment? That's why you let your kid be the trailblazer.

    What would you do if Cassidy were your kid? Would you be willing to risk the bullies so your kid could make a difference?


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