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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.

    glee season 5 premiere Darren CrissGleeks, did that just happen? Did season 5 of Gleepremiere with the Beatles AND a proposal? Don't they usually hold off on these sort of things for a cliffhanging ending?

    Maybe the writers knew our hearts really needed a pick-me-up after starting things off with disappointment for Rachel ... and a heartwrenching cover of "Yesterday" from her that made it hard not to see Lea Michele's pain and heartache over the loss of Cory Monteith shining through. Or maybe this was planned all along.

    Either way, it happened.

    HUGE spoiler alert ahead ... so if you didn't hit the DVR yet, avert your eyes!

    Blainepopped the question (c'mon, you already guessed that).

    And Kurt said yes!

    Klaine is back! And they're getting married!

    As Sam said tonight, "Gay marriage, good, it's good, it's good things! And they're all happening so fast, let's go!"

    The epic proposal that explains the show's title, "Love, Love, Love," happened back at Dalton Academy, in the very spot where a young bow-tied Warbler first laid eyes on one Kurt Hummel. With some of the New Directions' fiercest competition providing back-up vocals, Blaine serenaded his love ... and then pulled out a ring.

    And, well, I already mentioned that Kurt gave the aye aye, but I should throw in there that it came after a speech from his father Burt that seemed to have a little ode to Cory in there. Burt -- aka TV's greatest dad -- reminded his son that time is short, and you only get so much of it with the people you love. If he'd known Kurt's mom was going to die young, he would have married her even sooner.

    His speech was a little sad, but nothing compared to what we know is coming down the pike -- in just two episodes -- for the New Directions. With that in mind, the happy engagement seems the perfect way to start the season, something to keep us going even through the rough parts.

    What did you think of the premiere? Did it set the right tone?

     

    Image via Adam Rose/FOX


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    webcamAs if American parents needed another thing to worry about online, a man has been charged with hacking into teenage girls' computers, including the machine owned by Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf. The man was allegedly using their webcams to make compromising images and blackmailing them. Thousands of so-called sextortion photos were made without the girls' knowledge via their webcams!

    Photos of teenagers. Young girls. Mere KIDS.

    And then once he had them, cops say alleged sextortionist Jared James Abrahams, a computer science college student, would threaten the young girls with exposure unless they made more nude videos and images for him.

    Abrahams is 19, but his alleged victims were often younger. One 17-year-old girl allegedly begged him to "have a heart" even as he forced her to strip down via Skype. His apparent response to pleas that she was just a kid?

    Age doesn’t mean a thing to me.

    Yikes!

    Age doesn't mean a thing? Meaning he doesn't care who gets him off, as long as he gets off?

    Meaning ... he's perfectly fine with hurting kids? Because teenagers are kids, right? Even when a man is only 19 ... younger women are still just ... kids?

    More From The Stir: Baby Monitor Hacking Scares Parents Everywhere, but Could It Really Happen to You?

    That someone could be hacking into your webcam and tracking what you have going on at home is terrifying to begin with, but there seems to be a growing number of incidents directed at kids -- from the hacked baby monitors to this guy allegedly getting his jollies from what seems perilously close to child pornography

    So far Abrahams has been charged with "cybercrimes," although the FBI is still sorting out the case. Hopefully that means there will be something done about a man who thinks it's OK to sneak into the bedrooms of kids -- albeit from behind a computer screen -- and make their private lives hell.

    What do you think the punishment should be here?


    Image via MSShades/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    cheerleadersReady for your what were they thinking moment of the day? A high school cheerleader with Down syndrome has her pom poms back after her mom fought tooth and nail with a school that had labeled the 16-year-old a liability. What's so dangerous about having Brittany Davila suit up to cheer on her school's volleyball team?

    Well, apparently when she showed up for the second game of the season, Brittany was wearing the wrong uniform.

    Oh. My. Gawd. Can you believe it? A kid actually made a mistake? Call out the National Guard! Alert the media!

    Get that kid out of the gymnasium before it explodes!

    Yes, oh Internet readers, that was sarcasm. 

    So a kid showed up in the wrong uniform, and the coach decided that was a reason to worry about her safety on the sidelines? Can you imagine that being the response to any kid who DIDN'T have Down syndrome?

    Me neither.

    When it comes to kids with special needs, people seem to choose one extreme or the other. Either they treat these kids like they can't possibly do anything their "normal" peers can do, or they go the other direction and hold them to impossibly high standards, standards the other kids would never be held to. When they can't meet them, they blame it on the special need.

    Why? Why can't we just treat these kids as kids? Hold them to the same standards as their peers?

    I'm not saying kids with special needs shouldn't get a break now and then, but I think a lot of people sell these children short. If they'd just give them a chance, they will probably be surprised.

    In Brittany Davila's case, she'd been cheering for years, first in junior high and now at her high school. As her mom said, she couldn't do the stunts, but she could definitely do the cheers. And by standing on the sidelines, she was at no more risk of being hurt by a stray ball or tackling football player than any other kid.

    Brittany's mom went to bat for her and got the school to listen to reason. She's got a permanent spot back on the squad.

    Give me an M! Give me an O! Give me another M! Goooo Mom!

    It's just too bad that her little girl had to go through this, but hopefully it will teach other folks that holding kids with special needs to a higher standard just so you can find an excuse to revoke privileges is unacceptable.

    Has your child ever been in a situation like this? What happened?

     

    Image via Katie Dunlap/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    baby in diaperOnce upon a time, if you had a baby, you were using cloth diapers because, well, there was no other option. And then along came disposable diapers, and moms flocked to them because they were new and oh so convenient! But I don't have to tell you that times have changed, do I? Moms are using cloth AND moms are using disposable, and there's a never-ending argument over which one is better.

    So what's the answer? Is one better than the other?

    The Stir chatted up moms who have done both, and from what we can tell, it's all about what works for your family. BUT we did get some pretty clear pros and cons of using cloth diapers ... to help you figure out just what it is that DOES work for you:

    Cost--

    Pros:

    Buy a cloth diaper, and you get your money's worth -- it's yours to keep and reuse over and over and over again! According to Consumer Reports, if you're using disposables, expect to spend $1,500 to $2,000 or more by the time your baby is out of them. That price rises to an average of $1,600 to $2,500 if you use more "eco-friendly" brands. If you use a cloth diaper service, you save on the cost of running your washing machine, buying detergent, etc.

    Cons:

    If you're using a service, you could be racking up quite a bill. Services range anywhere from $20 a week on up. If you're not using a service, you have to add the cost of electricity and water usage for your washing machine, plus buying detergent for all the extra laundry.

    Eco-Value--

    Pros:

    Cloth diapers can be reused, so they're not being added to the landfills. Even once they're "retired" from service, a cloth diaper makes a great rag -- once again keeping it out of the landfill.

    The fewer you have to buy, the fewer that have to be manufactured.

    Cons:

    Disposable diapers may fill up the landfill, but cloth diapers require a lot of electricity and water usage to keep them clean. There have been studies to compare the two eco-factors, but none has been completely clear on which is better for the environment.

    cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers how to choose

    Convenience--

    Pros:

    Buying diapers is a one-shot deal. You buy a whole lot, and you just reuse them.

    It's unlikely that you'll run out of diapers, especially if you're washing them yourself. You just grab a clean one out of the hamper.

    Cons:

    When you're out and about with a cloth diapered kid, if they have a dirty diaper, you can't just throw it out. You have to bring that dirty diaper home with you.

    Just like disposables, cloth diapers vary in quality. Some parents prefer the new moisture wicking technologies in disposables that make for fewer diaper changes.

    You have to actually clean cloth diapers, even knocking the poop out into your toilet. Disposables you just fold and drop in the nearest garbage bin.

    Health --

    Pros:

    Some disposable diapers have been found to contain toxins such as dioxin.

    Moms of babies with sensitive skin report that the only thing their kids could comfortably use were cotton-based cloth diapers.

    Cons:

    Some moms reported more rashes when their kiddos were in cloth diapers because they were less absorbent and didn't have a barrier to keep moisture from the skin.

    Potty Training --

    Pros:

    Some moms say their babies trained earlier because in cloth, they could actually FEEL the wetness.

    Cons:

    Some moms say their kiddos didn't care whether they were in cloth or disposable; they were happy to stay in diapers forever!

    So what will it be? Cloth or disposable for you?

     

    Images via CarbonNYC/Flickr; iStock


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Plum Organics recalled baby foodsPouches have become a popular way to package baby food, but one company is recalling tons of baby food this week after an issue with its pouches. Plum Organics issued an extensive voluntary recall of several baby and toddler foods that the company says may be spoiled inside the pouch because of a manufacturing defect.

    Is your kiddo eating spoiled food? Here's what you need to know!

    1. The recall applies to a wide variety of pouched foods in Plum Organics' Baby Stage 2, Tots Mish Mash, and Kids lines.

    2. Foods in the recall will bear the Best By dates ranging from 08/05/14 (August 5, 2014) to 12/08/14 (December 8, 2014) and the letters “AT.”

    3. The recalled pouches may swell, indicating a problem, but even if they aren't swelling, Plum Organics advises parents not to feed them to their children.

    4. To obtain a refund or for more information, call the Plum Organics Consumer Hotline at 866-495-3774. You can also fill out a product replacement voucher online or email info@plumorganics.com with subject line, “Replacement Voucher,” and the following information: first & last name, full address (street, apt #, city, state, zip code), phone number, Best By date, and number of affected pouches.

    Do your kids eat the pouched foods? Does the recall affect you?

     

    Image via Plum Organics


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Teen Mom Josh McKeeIt's always the quiet ones they tell you to watch out for, isn't it? If you've been watching Teen Mom 3 this season, you know that Josh McKee has been sometimes painfully quiet, especially when Mackenzie Douthit has most needed him to speak up. That changed big time on the Teen Mom 3 finale!

    The rage that's been hiding beneath Josh's disinterested exterior came bubbling out. Goodbye laid-back cowboy. Hello pissed off boyfriend!

    The blow-up happened on the way to what was supposed to be Mackenzie and Josh's first session with a counselor -- made at her request (of course). You could tell things were not going to go well when Mackenzie settles into the truck, and Josh's first words were him telling her he didn't want to go.

    Driving along (neither of them seeming to be sporting seat belts, I might add), they quickly get into a fight about the radio, which devolves into a battle over whether Josh tries hard enough in the relationship.

    Mackenzie makes a lot of good points. Josh may have a hard time opening up about his feelings; plenty of people do. But he barely even talks to her! He seems to communicate with a lot of grunts.

    She does come off as a bit of a nag as the fight goes on, but who can blame her? She's been hitting her head up against the same wall over and over, and she isn't getting anywhere. Make that wasn't getting anywhere until Josh finally let go and actually started yelling. When his cellphone goes off, he gets frantic that she's checking it and tries ripping it of her hands, the truck swerving all over the road (and Gannon is in the backseat!). Then he tries to kick Mackenzie out of the truck!

    She refuses to get out and be stranded (good for her), so he pulls over and gets out himself! 

    The fight was pretty epic, and I'm thinking we all need to write letters to beg MTV to give us a season 2 because I have to know how a couple can go from that screwed up to happily married and expecting a second baby.

    Something BIG had to have happened!

    More From The Stir: Alex Sekella's Ex Will Never Get His Baby Back (VIDEO)

    There were some big doings for the other girls tonight too. Alex Sekella found out her high school wants her to redo her entire senior year. Feeling sorry for her and recognizing that she's been working her tail off, Alex's mom decides to spring for a family vacation in Bermuda, including little Arabella who -- it ends up -- is even cuter splashing in the water. When they get back to Pennsylvania, Matt McCann calls and wants to get together, but he bails on them ... once again.

    Katie Yeager got some out-of-town time too, to celebrate Molli's birthday. Her ex-fiance Joey Maes even joined them, and they had an actual successful day of co-parenting. It's probably not going to be smooth sailing from here, but at least they're trying.

    Briana DeJesus and her mom make nice with Devoin, inviting him to little Nova's first birthday party. Not only does he bring a big box of diapers, but he actually helps set up for the party and gets involved. Maybe someone's seeing what he's been missing by not being there for his daughter?

    All these unanswered questions should make for some interesting discussions with Dr. Drew next week!

    Have you been expecting Josh to blow up at Mackenzie one of these days? What do you think was on his phone?

     

    Image via MTV


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    doorbellThe sad news keeps on coming out of Detroit. Cops now have the autopsy report on Renisha McBride, the black teen shot when she rang a doorbell to find help in a predominantly white neighborhood after a car accident. The shooting has already drawn a lot of national attention for its possible racial motivation, and the medical examiner's report isn't going to quiet the outrage -- that's for sure.

    Renisha's death has officially been ruled a homicide by the medical examiner's office. What's more, they say she was not shot in the back as some media reports had indicated.

    Renisha was shot in the face, but the shot did not come at close range, according to the ME's report.

    The latter fact would seem to coincide with the 54-year-old homeowner's alleged claim that he accidentally fired his gun when investigating what he thought might be a break-in. It will be up to cops to determine what's fact and fiction there, and the prosecutor has promised they are weighing whether charges are to come.

    The former finding, whether charges come or not, confirms fears we've had from the moment this story broke. It certainly sounds as though Renisha was doing exactly as described over and over -- standing there, facing the house, waiting for help. She was looking at this front door, expecting some kindness, and instead was answered with a bullet that claimed her life.

    Accident or no accident, this finding indicates Renisha's face was to the door, that it should have been clear who was at the door -- a young girl, not an intruder. One would think that seeing a young girl, a clearly scared and hurt young girl (she did just have a car accident after all), would be reason enough to put down the darn gun!

    Unless this really was racially motivated?

    What do you make of the final moments for Renisha McBride? What should cops do now?

     

    Image via Paul_Simpson.org/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Ronald PhillipsAre you an organ donor? Did you feel a little charge of warm and gushy feelings when you checked that little box on your license, knowing you're a good person? Well, get in line, buddy -- right behind convicted child killer and Ohio death row inmate Ronald Phillips. He's scheduled to die by lethal injection in a few days, but first he wants to donate his organs.

    Wait, what? It's such a nice gesture ... from a death row inmate, it's hard to believe it's real. But it is.

    Phillips would prefer his organs go to his mom and sister -- mom is in kidney failure, sis has a heart condition -- but really anyone one will do if he's not a match for his family. Just so he does a little good in this world. That is if it's possible for a man on death row for raping and killing a 3-year-old to do some good.

    It's a tough question, isn't it?

    There's no way to erase a horror that awful. A child is dead, and she isn't coming back. That said, we can always use more good in this world, can't we? Especially in light of crimes like Phillps' that happen every day?

    Phillips was sentenced to die for the rape and death of his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter back in 1999. Up until last week, the 40-year-old was pushing for mercy from the courts, but now that the Ohio governor has said no way, he's taken the "donate my organs" path.

    Kidney donation can be done from a living donor, and surgery to do it would likely put off the execution, but Phillips' lawyers claim this isn't a diversionary tactic. He's willing to let it all happen after death.

    Maybe it's true, and it's all on the up and up.

    And then again, maybe it's not, but still, at least two people could have a better life because of this guy. Considering all he's done wrong, doesn't he owe the world that? Owe us something better?

    This wouldn't be the first time the thought of making death row inmates' lives count for something more has been brought up. The idea of having inmates donate their organs is bandied about during many death row debates, but it's often held back by the concept of the inmate's right to choose what happens to his body. Even a criminal's dead body deserves some respect; if only for their family.

    But here we don't have that problem. We have a man who is willing to sign on the dotted line. The ethical dilemmas are gone, and now we face only the logistical ones: should a state adjust its methods of execution for a killer if they're willing to give life to others?

    According to the Department of Health and Human Services, "an average of 18 people die each day waiting for transplants that can't take place because of the shortage of donated organs." If we have inmates like Phillips who are willing to help cut that number, is it worth it to give them that chance? Even if it does give them some kind of good karma into the afterlife?

    As mentioned earlier, nothing will erase what a man like Phillips has done to an innocent child. But then, the people who stand to gain from his organ donations are innocent too. Shouldn't we think about them?

    How would you feel about taking an organ from a man on death row?

     


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    3 Queens momBeing a stay-at-home mom can be at times incredibly rewarding and incredibly difficult, and all the while you're wondering: is it worth it? Will the kids remember? Heads up, Mom! The son of a stay-at-home mom has come out with a short film that is both a hauntingly beautiful tribute to his own mother and to stay-at-home moms across the country.

    More from The Stir:Becoming a Stay-at-Home Mom Was the Best Decision I've Ever Made

    Dubbed "3 Queens," the two-and-a-half-minute film follows three moms in three towns across the country -- in Pennsylvania, Washington, and Texas -- and tells their story entirely through the eyes of their children. They tell it better than I can, so just watch:

     

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    Sniff.

    Sniff.

    OK, OK, pulling myself together here. I was so moved by the quiet tribute to moms that I had to know who it was that made this film and what inspired them. When I tracked down Matt Bieler, a Los Angeles-based director who has won awards for his work shooting VH1 Save the Music PSAs and Diet Coke commercials, I asked what made him turn the lens on moms.

    Here's what he had to say:

    I found myself in every day awe of my sister who is one of the mothers in the film and her daily grind of raising three young ones. And it made me think back to what a superstar my own mother was raising myself and my two sisters as a young stay-at-home and the selflessness that entails.

    The seed of the idea was to thank moms around the country/world for this heroic unselfish love as told through the eyes and voice of their children. Whether they are working mothers or stay at home, these are just three stories of many.

    I could go on more but in short I made this film as a thank-you to my own mother. She said she liked it.

    I would hope she did! She has a lot to be proud of ... and so does every other mom out there.

    Have you thanked YOUR own mother lately? What would you say?

     

    Image via Matt Bieler/VIMEO


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Chelsea HouskaTeen Mom 2 star Chelsea Houska has signed with new management. Good for her! Er, we hope anyway. The thing is, our favorite cosmetologist has officially inked a deal with none other than Howie Wood Entertainment, a management team that once represented Farrah Abraham!

    Farrah Abraham as in fellow Teen Mom star and maker of some colossally bad decisions over the past year or so. Heaven help us!

    Chelsea is one of the few stars of Teen Mom who has lived a life that's more or less scandal-LESS, and we love her all the more for living a sex-tape-free existence (hey, as far as we know). Seeing her follow in Farrah's footsteps -- even if it is just by signing with the same management team -- is enough to give us agita.

    More From The Stir: Farrah Abraham's 'Boyfriend' Is About as Real as Her Nose

    The good news is the Howie Wood team only represented Farrah once. Despite rumors to the contrary, Wood himself told The Stir:

    The fact is I have only booked Farrah for one club appearance and have never been her manager or provided my company or services to her further, I would not be interested.

    She was represented by Gina Rodriguez -- who is rumored to be suing Farrah, b-t-dubs -- during the whole sex tape debacle.

    And if Wood isn't interested in repping Farrah again, hopefully that means he knows better than to let his clients follow her lead. Here's hoping Chelsea is in good hands!

    What would you like to see Chelsea doing now that she's got big management?

     

    Image via Instagram


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Coachella ArabsThe Washington Redskins' owner's refusal to change the team's offensive name may be getting a lot of national coverage these days, but the NFL team is far from the only one with a mascot problem. A California high school is currently in hot water over its own team name -- kids at Coachella Valley High Schoolplay and root for the "Arabs."

    Not surprisingly, the name doesn't sit well with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which has sent a letter requesting administrators do something about it. That would likely mean getting rid of the school's angry looking mascot ... and the belly dancer who shows up at football games.

    Can't believe this exists in a high school in 2013? Just wait until you hear some of the other offensive team names American kids are playing under at high schools across the country.

    Would you let your kids play for number 7? What is your kids' school mascot?

     

    Image via Coachella Valley High School


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    little girl in the snowThe temperature dipped down in the 30s the other day in my neck of the woods. It's November in the Northeast. It happens. But if you were driving through my hood, you might have seen a girl in a pair of shorts and a short-sleeve shirt standing outside on the soccer field and thought, What kind of crappy mother lets her kid outside without a coat on in the cold?

    Ahem. Guilty!

    I let my daughter go out in the cold without a coat on. You gotta problem with that? Of course you do!

    There's nothing like a kid out in the cold without her coat to get the judgy mommy tongues a wagging, is there? It's like Christmas came early!

    But allow me to drop a bit of coal in your stocking, love.

    It's not that my daughter doesn't have a coat. She has at least three of them of varying levels of warmth. She has two hats, a nice scarf, and heaven knows how many pairs of gloves too.

    More From The Stir: 16 Grossest Things Parents Do for Their Kids

    She also has a mind of her own, and a stubborn streak a mile long.

    Sound familiar, anyone? Anyone? Any of the moms with the perfect kids who have never covered the dog in glitter or smuggled their Halloween candy into their bedroom and gorged on it all want to weigh in here?

    No? OK, we'll carry on then.

    At 8 years old, my kid thinks she knows better than her parents about 97 percent of the time. About 7 percent of the time she's right, and I'm pleased as punch to be raising a smart, directed, strong female.

    And then there's the other 90 percent, during which I'm engaged in a battle with an opponent armed with barbs like "But it's not faaaaair" and "Nobody else's mom makes them do that!"

    Much of the time said battles seem to center around the horror of making someone wear long sleeves when we could store ice cream on the front porch and still find it hard as a rock three hours later.

    At one point I purchased one of those small electronic thermometers that showed not only the temperature inside and outside of our house, but a small child wearing clothing appropriate to the outside temperature. The idea was that if she didn't take my word for it, at least she'd see the little girl on the LCD screen all bundled up and consider adding a coat.

    Sometimes it worked! Sometimes.

    But you see, oh Mom whose kids are bundled up like the Michelin man and happy about it, the older my daughter gets, the less I'm finding these battles worthy of my time.

    So she says she doesn't want to wear a coat? Fine! I'll suggest it. I'll explain that it's 34 degrees outside, and I will be putting on my wool peacoat, gloves, and a scarf, and then I will let her decide what to do.

    Sometimes she doesn't wear the coat. Usually it happens at the beginning of winter, like on the day of her last soccer game a few weeks back. She's still getting used to this whole "cold is here to stay" thing, and so she bucks my authority.

    We go outside, and she gets cold.

    Good and cold.

    She then spends the rest of her time outside complaining about said cold, while I just stand there and nod. I could suggest she go get a coat, but I know better. She has to come to that decision on her own, has to learn that her actions have consequences.

    Usually she does. After a few frigid mornings at the bus stop or one soccer game turns her legs into popsicles, she's all good to go for another winter. We may have a few hiccups along the way, but I just lather, rinse, and repeat the aforementioned steps, and she figures it out. The coat becomes attractive again.

    Of course, I've suffered the sidelong glances and the wide-eyed looks. I've seen the moms whispering, and although I can't hear them, I know they're asking, "What kind of mother lets her kid out without a coat in this weather?"

    So I'll tell you what kind of mother: the kind who wants her child to learn to make good decisions. It's not enough to train our kids to do what they're told. One day we're not going to be there to tell them, and I want my daughter to be able to figure out the right course of action when that happens.

    Honestly, the coat is just the beginning. The older she gets, the more I'm realizing I have to let her suffer the consequences of poor decisions so she will learn to make good ones.

    Just wait until the other moms find out what happens to her when she refuses to wipe the dried toothpaste off her chin at the bus stop.

    Do you make your kids wear their coat? How far will you go when they're fighting you about it?

     

    Image by Jeanne Sager


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Ryan FergusonA 29-year-old Missouri man just went out for probably the best beer he's ever tasted. After all, for nearly 10 years, Ryan Ferguson has been stuck in prison, serving a sentence for a crime he didn't commit. Ferguson was convicted of murdering a man when he was just a teenager. But now both witnesses who put him at the scene have recanted, and with no physical evidence indicating he killed Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt, Ferguson is a free man in more ways than one.

    You see, Ferguson was first arrested in 2004 for the 2001 murder. Then came his 2005 conviction and a sentence of 25 years. He's never really been a "man" out in the world. Imagine trying to figure out how to be an adult at 29?

    As he told CBS:

    I know what it is to be a teenager, I don't know what it is to be an adult in the real world, as nearly a 30-year-old. I look forward to finding myself out and learning what it is I enjoy and what I love about life and finding what my passion is and acting on it.

    I admire Ferguson's attitude, but I'm doubly glad to read that he has a band of supporters around him, including his girlfriend right now. It's going to be hard, really, really hard. 

    Just think about prison: as much as it is a punishment for criminals, it's also got a lot in common with adolescence. Someone tells you when to eat, when to go to sleep. Someone pays for the roof over your head and the heat to keep you warm.

    Your responsibilities are minimal.

    Now this poor guy has to deal not only with having lost nearly 10 years of his life, but with doing all that most folks do at 19 or 20 as a full-fledge adult. Ferguson has to make those mistakes when they should be a decade behind him. He has to figure out who he wants to be, and he has no time to waste. Ten years have already been wasted for him by the people who wrongfully testified that he was involved in a murder he did not commit.

    This week is an amazing one for Ryan Ferguson -- seeing his family again, his girlfriend, just being a normal guy who gets to go out for a beer. But it's bittersweet too.

    I wish him nothing but the best of luck today, and I have a feeling he's going to need it.

    Remember what it was like figuring out how to be an adult? What was the biggest mistake you made?

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

     

    Image via CBS


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    baby bottleA mom who says a judge told her to stop breastfeeding her baby so the father of her daughter could have overnight visits with the child is getting a lot of attention right now and a lot of support from breastfeeding advocates. After all, breast is best, right? But isn't having two parents also pretty important?

    Jessica Moser is making the rounds of the media with the complaint that a judge has given her 10-month-old daughter Jasmine's father overnight visitations that will last two days. Mom says she can't pump enough breast milk to cover those stints, but it wouldn't matter anyway because Jasmine won't take a bottle.

    But it sounds an awful lot like a lady who doth protest too much.

    More From The Stir: 12 Wackiest Pumping Stories From Breastfeeding Moms

    The only one who's making her stop breastfeeding here is her!

    While it's true that many exclusively breastfed babies don't like to take a bottle, 99.9999 percent of the time, babies can learn. It's not always a fun process, and it takes some hard work, but even the La Leche League -- pretty much the biggest breastfeeding advocacy group on the planet -- acknowledges on its website that sometimes babies have to drink expressed breast milk from a bottle. They offer tips on making it happen, even suggesting that older babies who can sit up might be better off going right to a sippy cup.

    Not to mention, increasing supply can be done. La Leche League offers plenty of tips on that too.

    It makes a great headline to say that a judge is interfering with a mom's right to breastfeed, but the devil, as they say, is in the details. There are options here for this mom and her baby to keep breastfeeding going. They're just not options this mom seems willing to hear.

    Unfortunately for any mom who is breastfeeding and dealing with a custody battle, this is something they have to face. Pumping, bottle feeding ... that's what sharing custody of a child is all about: making compromises for the best of a child. Exclusive breastfeeding is a great thing, but there are ways she can increase her supply and ways to teach this child to take a bottle. They may not be super easy, but then neither is being a dad who hasn't gotten to spend one-on-one time with his baby girl because the child's mom is using breastfeeding as a weapon.

    Ladies, breastfeeding your kids is important, but it does not trump a child bonding with their other parent. Sharing custody in and of itself is a compromise. YOU get the benefit of shared custody too. So now you need to give a little something to the other side.

    Do you share custody? How do you handle breastfeeding your baby?

     

    Image via Neeta Linda/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Catelynn Lowell Tyler Baltierra daughter CarlyWhether you're a fan of Teen Mom or not, the show has done a lot for normalizing open adoption in America. Catelynn Lowell and Tyler Baltierra were clearly not ready for parenthood when daughter Carly arrived, and they were brave enough to talk about it on television every week for four seasons. But their passion for the cause didn't stop there, and now there's a photo out that does wonders to forward the notion that open adoption isn't just good for parents: it's good for the kids too!

    Just take a look at Catelynn and Tyler's daughter, Carly Davis, when she got to spend some time with not only her adoptive parents, but her bio mom and dad too! The grin on her face says it all!

    The photo -- and the one above of Carly's back -- have surfaced as Catelynn and Tyler push adoption in honor of National Adoption Month, but they actually date back to September when Tyler and Catelynn had their annual get-together with Carly and her parents, Brandon and Teresa Davis. The Davises also invited Beth, the birth mother of their son, who has also become a friend of Catelynn's. 

    More From The Stir: 'Teen Mom' Amber Portwood Should Get Custody Now That She's Out of Prison

    In all that makes two little kids and five adults gathered round to shower them with love. Can you think of anything greater for a kid than MORE love in their life?

    Adoption is not an easy decision. We saw that time and time again on Teen Mom. Even years later, Catelynn and Tyler still field criticism for their choice, and they still feel the pain. As Catelynn tweeted this week:

    I miss her laughter, smile, and sweet little voice. Miss you and see you next year my love. â�¤ï¸ï¿½ #adoptionhttp://t.co/UYzReKyEvb

    — Catelynn Lowell (@CatelynnLowell) November 7, 2013

    But the increasing number of parents opting for open adoption gives everyone in the equation something good. The birth parents retain a connection with their little one. The little one gets to know about their biological ties and is showered with love from multiple sets of parents. And the adoptive parents have a child who is surrounded by that love.

    Good for Catelynn and Tyler for being willing to share their story to change others.

    Would you consider open adoption? Why or why not?

     

    Image via Instagram


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    apartment complexOH, my heart hurts. The mom of a 3-year-old is suing her apartment complex after she says a neighbor boy raped her little girl. The Oregon mom claims the owners and managers of the Willamette Grove Apartments knew the 10-year-old boy was a danger to others and did nothing about it.

    Can you imagine being that manager? Or that owner? Knowing something and not saying anything and then ... this?

    According to the lawsuit, the manager of the apartments knew that the boy was caught peering into a girl's bedroom and that the boy threatened children with a knife. The lawsuit also alleges the manager instructed the parents of those children not to disclose the boy's behavior to other tenants.

    Not knowing the information, mom says she had no reason to suspect the boy would begin molesting her toddler, bribing her with candy so she'd remove her clothes.

    The lawsuit is still in court, so we can't say yet whether the allegations are true or not, but for argument's sake, let's say they are. Speaking up could have saved this child a lot of trauma.

    It's not always comfortable to speak up and label someone as a bad seed, especially when you're talking about a 10-year-old boy. He's just a kid. In that sense, I'd be hesitant if I were on some jury to award this mom the $6 million in damages and another $25,000 for psychological treatment she's requesting.

    But from a purely moral standpoint, I can't imagine not saying something. In the global village in which we all live, that's just what you do for one another. You warn your neighbors if there's something -- or someone -- they should be on the lookout for to keep them safe. If you're wrong, you're wrong, but at least people have the information they need to be prepared.

    Don't speak up, on the other hand, and you don't get to come out with the information later and say, "Oh, well, sorry, I shoulda said something."

    Whatever the outcome of this lawsuit, my heart goes out to this poor family.

    What do you think the manager should have done here?

     

    Image via taberandrew/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    little girlAside from the seven weeks I took for maternity leave, I have never been a true stay-at-home mom. I've always worked, be it part-time, freelance, or now full-time. I love my job. It fulfills me in ways that I couldn't begin to describe. But if there's one battle in the mommy wars that baffles me the most, it's the one waged between working moms and stay-at-home moms (SAHMs). In fact, I'm going to come out with a confession that more than a few of my fellow working moms are probably keeping close to the vest: I'm intensely jealous of SAHMs.

    If I'm honest with myself, I've felt this way for years, but the realization really hit me in the chest this week as I read an essay on Salon from mom Jessica Stolzberg who feels like she's being bullied for being the stay-at-home mom at her kids' bus stop.

    More From The Stir: Son Makes Stunning Tribute to Stay-at-Home Moms Everywhere (VIDEO)

    Stolzberg's "bully" asks her snide questions such as "What do you do all day," and the mother of two kids, ages 8 and 11, offers a long list of activities that keep her on her toes, from house cleaning to dog walking, volunteering in her kids' school to appointments with the children.

    I know SAHMs are busy people, and the list is everything I'd expect from a mom who doesn't work outside the home.

    It is exhausting.

    And for me, the working mom, it's more than a little depressing.

    I don't get to volunteer at my daughter's school, much as I'd like to, and my dog doesn't get walked. I open the door to our (fenced in) yard, and she goes outside by herself. Taking my daughter to her doctor's appointments involves such a juggle of my work/personal days that I haven't actually been to my own OB/GYN in longer than I'd like to admit.

    As for cleaning?

    I'd laugh at the question if I wasn't so close to tears.

    Growing up my bedroom was the neatest place in my parents' house, but you wouldn't know it from the pile of dishes currently sitting my sink, the mail piled on my counter, or the folded laundry still sitting in a basket in my living room.

    More From The Stir: I Feel Guilty Leaving Work for My Kid

    I try to dedicate time every night and weekend to cleaning, but then nights and weekends are also supposed to be time to spend with my husband (who also works) and our school-aged daughter. And when push comes to shove, if it's spending a day at the LEGOLand Discovery Center with the two of them or cleaning decaying mushrooms out of the bottom of the vegetable crisper drawer, I know which one I'm going to choose.

    I don't think -- as many, many, many people seem to -- that stay-at-home moms are either lazy or prone to eating bon bons all day long. Nor do I think they live an idyllic existence. There is little bliss to be found in scrubbing your toilet or wiping a toddler's dirty butt.

    I waffle between the reality of knowing that stay-at-home-motherhood is a tough gig and the romantic notion that my life could be different, cleaner.

    There is much I yearn for that only stay-at-home-motherhood could give me.

    Floors that gleam.

    Time to pop into my daughter's classroom and see how her teacher operates, how the kids interact with her and and with one another.

    Flexibility to go to my own doctor when necessary.

    The problem, as we all know, is that the grass is always greener on the other side. I know there are benefits to stay-at-home motherhood that I will never enjoy as a working mom. But I have to remind myself that stay-at-home moms don't always get what I have either.

    I get to write for a living, the very thing I told my school guidance counselor I wanted to do way back in the sixth grade. I receive a paycheck that is absolutely necessary to keep our family afloat. I love working, and it's what works for MY family (not someone else's ... mine).

    But every one in awhile, the green-eyed monster comes out. And when she does, watch out!

    Which side of the coin are you on? What makes you jealous of the other side?

     

    Image by Jeanne Sager


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    marinesHeartbreaking news out of California's Camp Pendleton this morning. Four Marines have been killed in a mysterious mishap on the camp's range, right here on US soil. The deaths come just days after the nation paused to focus on our veterans and the sacrifices they make for our freedom.

    These tragic heroes -- whose names are being kept private as the Corps contacts their individual families -- add another facet to the discussion of what sacrifice and hero means for members of our military.

    Going overseas into a warzone is often considered the scariest, most heroic thing a member of our military can do -- and for good reason. War presents unexpected dangers.

    Still, that is only one part of what folks like these Marines give up for their country. They give up time with their families. They give up the freedom to pick and choose jobs. And they are often putting themselves in danger right here on United States soil.

    These four Marines were working in a range area used for live-fire exercises. The Corps has confirmed their deaths did not occur under live fire, but a spokesman indicated they may "very possibly" have involved unexploded ordnance suddenly detonating.

    The very fact that we have four Marines who are dead hammers home how dangerous that job is, even if it isn't in the middle of a warzone.

    Just a little something to think about next time you're talking about the heroes in our military.

    Our hearts go out to the families of these Marines.

    Do you think it's fair to use the word hero here?

     

    Image via DVIDSHUB/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    star in classroomOh. My. Word. First it was the trophies for every kid on the soccer team. Now schools are letting just about anyone on the honor roll. Even kids who get Ds on their report card!

    Confused? So was one mom at Florida's Pasco Middle School. Her son came home with a report card that showed he'd gotten a C in one class, a D in another. And despite his lackluster grades, the school had put him on the honor roll!

    Beth Tillack's reaction to this inanity makes me want to give her a big ol' hug today.

    Tillack freaked! As she told ABC:

    The bottom line is there is nothing honorable about making a D. I was not happy, because how can I get my child to study for a test when he thinks he's done enough.

    In this day of "gimme, gimme, gimme, that's my kid," this mom is actually angry that her kid made the honor roll. I think I LOVE this woman!

    Can you blame her? What does the honor roll even mean if a kid can get a D and still make the list?

    According to the school, they work on a point system to create their honor roll, so a bunch of As would outweigh one F enough for a kid with a failing grade to make the list. They also labeled the honor roll announcement sent home to Beth Tillack's kid as "encouragement."

    I'm not buying it. What's encouraging about being told that you're already doing great shakes when you really aren't? There's nothing to strive for. And for the kids who actually do make all As, putting a kid with Cs and Ds on the same roll is downright insulting. It tells those kids that their hard work doesn't really matter; they could have slacked off and gotten the same reward.

    There's an overwhelming temptation we all feel to shield our kids from hurt. We're all guilty of feeling it at times, myself included. But we need to step back and remember that the opposite of pain isn't no pain ... it's pure joy. And often the best way for our kids to obtain that is by letting them earn it. REALLY earn it.

    What do you think of an honor roll that includes kids who get Cs and Ds?

     

    Image via nickamoscato/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    President Barack ObamaThink the roll-out of Obamacare was a disaster? You might be surprised to find out who agrees with you. President Barack Obama himself. The president came out today in a White House press corps briefing to admit his administration "fumbled" the Affordable Care Act roll-out.

    It was as close to an apology as you can get, and it's about time! 

    But don't expect to see Obamacare disappear, y'all. Obama may have admitted today that he needs to "win back some credibility" from the American people, but he'd rather fix it than kick it aside.

    One of the big fixes?

    Obama had promised Americans they could keep health insurance plans if they were happy with them, but it turns out that only applied to plans in place before the ACA. Many plans bought since or modified since were being pulled by insurers.

    The president announced the government will allow insurance companies to offer consumers plans that would otherwise be cancelled. Those plans will be grandfathered through 2014. Directing his words at folks who have received letters from insurers that said they'd be dropped because the Affordable Care Act changes their eligibility, the president said, "I hear you loud and clear."

    But he was quick to suggest people turn to the government's health insurance marketplace just in case to see if they could find something better or cheaper.

    Yes, that same marketplace that Obama himself said was a fumble.

    It's getting better, he promised, noting that some 500,000 Americans do have health care because of it, including 106,000 people who successfully navigated the site to find health care and another 396,000 who have been able to get Medicaid coverage.

    "We're going to solve the problems that are there. We're going to get it right. The Affordable Care Act is going to work," he said.

    The question -- for most Americans -- is when.

    Do you feel better knowing the president admits the problems with Obamacare? How long are you willing to wait for the White House to get it right?

     

    Image via United States Government Work/Flickr


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