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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.

    Jenelle Evans son JaceJenelle Evans isn't exactly known for spending loads of time with son Jace Evans, but that could be about to change. The Teen Mom 2 star has been getting a lot of compliments for her son's adorable looks on Twitter these days. So what's a mom to do when the world thinks she birthed a cutie? Get him a job as a child model, of course!

    Well, that's what you do if you're Jenelle Evans, anyway.

    The Teen Mom has been absolutely revelling in the praise for Jace's sweet face, and she dropped this announcement on Twitter this week:

    I think Jace should be a kid model, #JustSayin�

    — Jenelle Evans (@PBandJenelley_1) November 13, 2013

    Attention modeling agencies, in Teen Mom world, that's what is known as a giant HINT. Jenelle is willing to put her son to work ... pronto!

    But don't get too excited, y'all. Jace IS adorable; I will absolutely give Jenelle that. She has produced one cute-looking kid. And one who seems to be fairly well-behaved when we see him on TV.

    But there's a major misconception that cute is enough to succeed at child modeling.

    More From The Stir: Catelynn Lowell & Tyler Baltierra Offer Rare Glimpse of Biological Daughter

    It's not.

    Child modeling is a lot of hurry up and wait. There are last-minute go-sees. There are open casting calls. There's a lot of driving to and fro. It becomes a full-time job for a parent, and it's not one that pays all that well. A kid only gets money if they book a gig, and the money for editorial shoots is low.

    Not to mention Jenelle lives in North Carolina, not exactly the center of child modeling. For the primo gigs, she's got to get to New York City or California with little Jace. Imagine her having to fly across the country with him on a regular basis?

    She can't even take care of him for a whole week. Do you really think she's going to be able to handle entertaining the toddler for hours in a room while they wait for him to audition with countless other little boys for the same job? Is she really going to give up her busy selfie-shooting schedule to drive him to audition after audition after audition?

    Is she really up for the trials and travails of dealing with a career for her TODDLER? Because he might technically be "working" as a star of a reality show, but MTV seems to go pretty easy on the kids -- they just do what kids do. Working as a model is another ball of wax.

    With Jenelle's history, a modeling career for Jace is pretty likely to overwhelm her in a hot minute ... even if he is "cute" enough for the job.

    Have you ever considered child modeling for your child? What stopped you?


    Image via Instagram

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    baby coming soonWhen I look back on my pregnancy, one of the things I think I regret most is that I didn't have as much fun with it as I could. For first-time moms, these are their last kid-free months! Even for moms who are on baby number two (or later), this is the one and only time in your life when society smiles on a big belly. So why not show it off?

    One of the cutest ways to do that is by baring the baby bump and then painting it! And if you're going to go through all the trouble, you might as well get a photographer to capture the belly decor, right? Perfect maternity photo shoot "prop"!

    Not sure were you'd even begin? Check out these adorable options to paint your belly!

    Would you consider #11? Which one is your favorite?


    Image via Robert Recker/Corbis

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Glee Kurt HummelThe Glee writers really know how to hit us in the feels, don't they? Tonight's episode was playing out as a funny bit of twerking madness -- complete with an epic speech from Sue Sylvester on the nation's most insidious foe, aka Miley Cyrus. And then out of nowhere, they nailed us with another tribute to Cory Monteith/Finn Hudson

    Way to send us tearing through another box of tissues! Along with the standard spoiler alert for those of you who haven't hit the DVR yet, let's add a tearjerker alert, m'kay?

    As mentioned, it was twerking night on Glee, and the New Directions were getting their twerk on up until the moment when Sue Sylvester decided it was absolutely indecent and banned it with one of the best commentaries yet on Miley and her bouncing butt. The way Sue "sees it," Miley has forced upon this nation:

    The genital flapping dance known as twerking that makes men and women alike look like overgrown, constipated toddlers.

    Oh Sue, we love you. And we needed that laugh, if only to keep us upright later on when the really hard stuff came out.

    Rachel and Kurt, of course, are still living their lives in New York, far away from the Miley madness and trying to cope without Finn. Tonight's big idea was to grab a bottle of Limoncello, take a few shots, and get up the nerve to get tattoos. Only on Glee is lemon-flavored liqueur the drink you hit when you want to get rebellious. 

    But hey, it works. Kurt's so drunk that he screws up the wording on his and ends up with "Its get better" on his back while Rachel chickens out ... or so she says.

    Because after Kurt goes out and gets the tat fixed, and his tongue pierced to boot, she sneaks into the bathroom to take a look at the one word now inked on her side.


    It's lovely and perfect and absolutely heartwrenching. He will be by her side forever now. There will never be a Rachel without Finn. Literally.

    Aaaaand I'm going to go off and cry in a corner somewhere.

    OK, OK, I'm back. It's good to see that Glee hasn't just up and forgotten Finn (or Cory). It's good for story continuity but also out of respect for his memory. You don't just erase someone you love.

    I just can't imagine how hard this is on the actors, especially Lea Michele. It's hard enough for us fans!

    Thank goodness there's Sue to give us a reason to laugh. I leave you with her summary on what can happen if we all ban twerking: 

    Hannah Montana can go back to naked straddling the three-ton wreckling ball she was clearly upsold at Home Depot as the cinder block room she's trying to demolish is only 12 square feet and already has a wall missing.

    What did you think of Rachel's tattoo? Should Glee continue to mention Finn or would it be better to make a clean break and move on?


    Image via Mike Yarish/FOX

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    pregnant bellySometimes things happen that are just so awful, it's hard to make sense of them. Like this: a woman who was eight months pregnant with twins was shot in the head in Florida this week. Alexis Boyce died, along with one of her twins. The other baby boy is in critical condition. How could such a horror happen? That's what police are trying to figure out, and they already have Boyce's husband, Michael Boyce, in custody for allegedly shooting his pregnant wife.

    What a life to be born into -- Mom is dead, your twin is dead, and your dad is facing first degree murder charges?

    According to police, Alexis and Michael Boyce were living with her parents, and it was her father who heard a gunshot and called police. Michael Boyce allegedly tried to pin the shooting on Alexis, saying she shot herself in the head. But then police say they confronted him with evidence to the contrary, and he fessed up -- to an accidental shooting of his pregnant wife.

    Michael Boyce now faces two murder charges -- one each for his wife and for the twin who didn't make it.

    My heart is with the little boy fighting for his life in a neonatal intensive care unit. It sounds like he'll have caring grandparents in his life, but who else will he have?

    This is the thought I always have when there are murders that involve family members, especially parents. What happens to those who are left behind? They need to pick up the pieces without the deceased, but also without the killer. It's like they're punished two times over or, in this case, three.

    No matter what comes of this case -- whether Dad really did it or not -- this little guy is going to need a LOT of love to make it through. My heart goes out to him.

    What do you make of the dad's story to police here?


    Image via InnocentEyez/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Catelynn Lowell Tyler BaltierraIn news that just about everyone saw coming, another couple from Teen Mom is headed to divorce court. But this might be the most complicated relationship to untangle yet. That's because the couple on the skids is April and Butch Baltierra.

    'Memba them? April is Catelynn Lowell's mom. Butch is Tyler Baltierra's dad. And since the two have been married since 2009, April is also Tyler's stepmom, and Butch is Catelynn's stepdad. Not to mention BOTH are the biological grandparents of little Carly.

    Are you getting a headache from trying to work your way through that tangled web?

    Then you can only imagine what this is going to be like for Cate and Ty! Despite their own little relationship hiccup while shooting Couples Therapy, the two are still very much together and planning to get married ... some day.

    Which means Butch and April are going to remain in each of these kids' lives in some fashion -- even if Butch is doing most of it from behind bars. Talk about a moral dilemma.

    More From The Stir: Catelynn Lowell & Tyler Baltierra Offer Rare Glimpse of Biological Daughter

    That said, if anyone is up for it, Catelynn and Tyler are the ones to manage to keep family politics out of their own love life. We saw time and again on Teen Mom how they managed to distance themselves from their parents' tumultuous relationship, with Tyler especially coming to realize that his dad will simply never be the man he wants him to be.

    Here's hoping April and Butch can at least be civil for the sake of their kids.

    Did you see this coming? What do you think Tyler and Catelynn will do?


    Image via Instagram

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    baby cribFinally some good news to report in terms of human rights this week. China has announced it will be taking at least one step out of people's bedrooms and tweaking its long criticized one-child policy. More parents may actually get to have two kids! Changes aren't as good as abandoning the restrictive policy altogether, but from the sounds of the policy changes on the table, at the very least, there could be a major reduction in the types of atrocities women are subjected to in that country.

    As the rule stands, most Chinese parents are restricted to having just one child, with some exceptions for rural peasants whose first child is a girl or couples who are both ethnic minorities.

    Unfortunately, life doesn't play by the rules, even a restrictive rule put in place by a totalitarian government. As anyone who has ever had an "oops" pregnancy knows, babies happen. They're not always planned, and only a fool would think that a law can change that! 

    The result of the bizarre policy has been stories like that of 25-year-old Feng Jianmei, a mother of a young daughter who got pregnant and was given two choices by the Chinese government: pay a fee that was the equivalent of four years of her husband's salary or abort her baby. At seven months pregnant, this poor woman was abducted and given an injection that killed her fetus.

    Sadly, Jianmei's story isn't a one-off. In addition to forced abortions, women deal with infanticide and involuntary sterilizations in China, all because of this ridiculous rule that dates back to a plan concocted by the Community Party in 1980 to curb runaway population growth.

    In a way, it has worked. Today, Chinese families average 1.6 children, while 2.1 is what experts say is necessary to avoid a shrinking population. But it's left the country with an uneven gender ratio (males still get preference to females), an aging workforce, and, of course, miserable people. Not to mention an atrocious record in terms of human rights violations.

    Call me misguided if you will, but I think the latter is a much bigger concern than overpopulation at this stage of the game. No matter the size of your population, you want it to be full of people who are taken care of, not abused!

    If it's put into place, the new rule will allow couples to have two kids if at least one parent of the couple is an only child (no, they don't get to have three if both are onlies ... bummer). Considering most Chinese folks are onlies, this could change things for a LOT of people.

    It still doesn't address the issue of oops pregnancies beyond baby number two. Nor does it address the fact that a government really does not belong sticking its nose in a couple's bedroom to begin with.

    But any women saved from the horrors of forced abortions and sterilizations, any children saved from infanticide, are wins.

    Do you think China is going far enough with the change?


    Image via boujiandnounna/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Prince George royal birth plateHe's already one of the most popular babies in the world, and Prince George is about to be a hero to sick babies in need! The birth of the son of Kate Middleton and Prince William was celebrated with the creation of special "royal birth plates" by British tableware maker Royal Worcester. Now one of those plates is being auctioned off to help one of the Duchess' favorite charities.

    You might remember Kate choosing her four charities for which she would act as a patron? It was nearly two years ago, so if you forgot, let me refresh your memory!

    The Duchess threw her support behind the Art Room, which offers art therapy to kids; the National Portrait Gallery; Action on Addiction; and East Anglia's Children's Hospice (EACH), which helps families and cares for children with life-threatening conditions.

    The latter is the charity that won the rights to auction off the "one-off" plate in an online auction on TheSaleroom.com. Bidding began today and will run through November 24. The monies will go to the Hospice.

    More From The Stir: Prince George Beats Out Mom Kate Middleton for Fashion Award

    It's no surprise that as a new mother, Kate seems especially connected to the work at the hospice. As the Duchess said of EACH in April, when she appeared in a video with her adorable baby bump:

    As patron of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices I have been fortunate to see at first hand the remarkable work that they do for children and young people with life-limiting conditions, and their families. It is simply transformational.

    What a lovely way to celebrate both her patronage and help kids in need!

    Will you be putting in a bid? What do you think of the charity the Duchess has chosen?


    Image via TheSaleroom

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    royal wedding cupcakesCouples have been known to spend big money on a wedding cake. It's their big day, so they want it to be epic, right? But even if you thought nothing of spending a few Gs on your day's dessert, spending $4,000 on a slice of wedding cake might make you gulp. What kind of flour and frosting concoction could cost that much? Oh, just Kate Middleton and Prince William's royal wedding cake.

    No word on whether it was made with royal icing (I jest), but a slice from the nearly two-year-old cake went up for auction, and someone had the idiocy pocketbook to put down some serious bank to gobble it up. Er, metaphorically, of course.

    Can you really see someone spending $4,000 -- or $4,160 to be more precise -- on some food and then actually eating it?

    If they did, I'm thinking we all pool our money and gather $4,000 together ... then pay for the permission to slap that idiot, amirite?

    Let's just set aside the fact that this cake was made way back in April 2011 and therefore probably tastes something like one of the Duchess' fascinators these days. Putting $4,000 in your mouth, chewing, and swallowing is probably one of the most disgusting displays of over-privilege that comes to mind.

    More From The Stir: Kate Middleton's Favorite Charity Benefits From Royal Birth

    This doesn't just apply to old slices of wedding cake that may or may not have brushed the knife used by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (wait, do royals do the whole cake cut and smush thing?). I'm always flummoxed by fancy overpriced eats.

    Is there anyone out there who could actually feel good about themselves after eating a $1,000 "golden sundae" or a $3,000 pizza?

    Here's hoping this mysterious bidder -- gee, I wonder why they kept themselves anonymous -- does the smart thing, at least the smartest thing that can be done after that bizarre bid. Put it under glass and just look and know you own a piece of royal history.

    All right Kate and Wills fans, be honest: what would YOU do with a slice of their wedding cake?


    Image via Lola's Big Adventure!/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    recessMoms. Dads. Can we talk about discipline in schools for a minute? Specifically, the habit teachers have of punishing kids by trimming time off of recess? Have you ever heard of a discipline technique more likely to fail?

    Let me just put a little disclaimer out there: I have an 8-year-old who attends public school. She has lost time off of her recess a few times, although not often. But this isn't just a problem in my house. Every time I turn around, another parent is telling me their kid is being kept inside while the rest of the wiggleworms go outside to run around and get all that energy out of their system.

    More From The Stir: School Deserves an 'F' for Putting D-Students on Honor Roll

    Is it any wonder some kids are "problems" in the classroom? The one time of the day when children are actually allowed to be up out of their seats, and their teachers are saying, "Uh, uh, no way, we're going to make you sit there even longer ... oh, and we expect you to deal with it."

    The problem with this? Ya know, beyond common sense?

    Experts have practically been screaming their lungs out for the past few years, trying to be heard by school districts about the benefits of downtime for kids even as those same school districts whittle away at the time kids get to spend outside a classroom. Programs like No Child Left Untested, er, No Child Left Behind, have put pressure on the districts to maximize academic time, and the loser is the kids. On average, today's kids get only 26 minutes of recess per day, and that includes lunchtime (when their butts are required to be in seats, and in many schools socialization is limited). Some schools have even gotten rid of recess entirely.

    Unfortunately for the schools -- and for our kids -- that's not enough. Kids' activity has been intrinsically linked to their behavior.

    When researchers asked teachers to rate the behavior of third graders, the kids who received at least 15 minutes of daily recess scored better than those who didn’t get recess. As Dr. Romina M. Barros of Albert Einstein College of Medicine told the New York Times when their study of recess was released back in 2009:

    Our brains can concentrate and pay attention for 45 to 60 minutes, and in kids it’s even less. For them to be able to acquire all the academic skills we want them to learn, they need a break to go out and release the energy and play and be social.

    Put it that way, and taking away a kid's recess is essentially setting them up to fail. It creates a vicious cycle whereby a rowdy kid misbehaves, loses recess, and then misbehaves again because they haven't gotten that break they need to be able to concentrate and pay attention.

    And lest you say I'm being way too kid-centric here (shudder), the researchers will tell you that not only is recess better for the kids; it's better for the teachers too. One study released earlier this year by researchers at Stanford University actually showed that schools that put a focus on giving kids a "better" more worthwhile recess experience actually got more academic time out of the kids because the children were ready to learn.

    So my question: when are the schools going to recognize this and do something about it?

    I'm not anti-discipline. Kids need to be held accountable for their actions if they're ever going to learn. But then again, if kids are ever going to learn, they need a system that isn't setting them up for failure.

    Do your kids lose time off of recess for misbehavior? What do you think should be done instead?


    Image via NCinDC/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Wanda Sue LarsonA Social Services department supervisor and her husband have been arrested and charged with multiple child abuse charges after cops found one of their children handcuffed to the porch, with a dead chicken wrapped around his neck. Let me repeat that: a social worker. Was arrested for child abuse. Was someone in the wrong job or what?

    Wanda Sue Larson heads up a Social Services department in Union County, North Carolina, and over the years, she and her husband have adopted four kids, plus they were fostering a little boy. Were until a cop responding to a call at a neighbor's house noticed the foster son, handcuffed to the porch by his ankle.

    This is one of those cases where the alleged criminal's job really must come under the microscope. How could a social worker, a woman charged with protecting kids from abuse, have gotten mixed up in something like this?

    Perhaps more to the point: if this is what was happening in Larson's home, what was she letting slide at work?

    After all, if the charges against Larson and her partner, Dorian Lee Harper, are true, she was fine with unspeakable cruelties being committed against a child she had pledged to love. If that's OK in her eyes, what would she allow to happen to kids who weren't her own? What was happening to all the kids out there who were depending on the social worker to protect them? 

    Hopefully this case will send folks back into her files to review her cases, but I shudder to think what they might find.

    As for her home, all of Larson and Harper's kids have been taken from them. They've been charged with of intentional child abuse inflicting serious injury, false imprisonment, and cruelty to animals, plus Larson is facing charges of willful failure to discharge her duty as a public official.

    Have you had a bad experience with a social worker? What happened?


    Image via Union County Sheriff's Office

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    child on tabletGet your kid a tablet, they say. The kids will love it, they say. No really, that's what all the retailers are saying this year, and the consumer experts too. This is the holiday season of the kids' tablet. The children want 'em, and the parents are expected to buy them in record numbers.

    This may solve the problem of what the big gift for Christmas will be, but it only creates another one for parents: if you're giving a kid a tablet with Internet access, how do you keep your child safe online?

    Ah, there's the rub, right? It's hard to keep today's kids offline, but once they're on, you don't want them to accidentally wander into naughty 'net territory.

    Having been there ... and done that ... allow me to offer a few safe spaces for kids on the web to pre-load into their browser bookmarks on their tablet!

    1. batteryPOP -- A new (and free!) site for kids that's loaded with entertainment news, tutorials (learn how to play Minecraft!), and kid-centric sketch comedy, batteryPOP lets kids decide what "pops" by letting them upvote the content they love.

    2. Club Penguin -- A massive multi-player online game (the kids call them MMOs), this is Disney-run, and it's mostly pay-to-play, although there is some stuff kids can access for free. My kid would spend hours on here (if I let her) playing with the fluffy creatures called Puffles. What I dig is the emphasis on safety -- there are live moderators making sure kids don't give out personal information, filters to keep out swear words, and no ads (aside, of course, from Disney shows being heavily featured).

    10 best sites for kids on the internet3. Jan Brett -- The popular children's book author has sold 35 million books over the years, and once said she believes reading is a way for kids to flex their "creative muscles." So it's no surprise that her author website is loaded with creative projects for kids. Even better? Many of them encourage your kids to get OFFLINE to make a craft!

    4. National Gallery of Art Kids -- Kids can create their own still life that's akin to the works of the old masters or take a digital class on digital photography on this site from the National Gallery of Art.

    5. Kids.Gov -- Let them dive into STEM with a virtual visit to the Insect Zoo or a walk through the water cycle. It's free and ad-free too!

    6. The Learning Network -- Directed at older kids (think tweens), The New York Times' Learning Network is a news site just for them!

    7. Creating Music -- No need to pay for a piano just yet. Kids can make music and learn about musical concepts such as pitch and tempo on this free site. The site is mostly ad-free, aside from some educational products related to the site's message.

    8. Discovery Kids -- Science from the folks at the Discovery Channel, this has games, puzzles, and quizzes, all for free and all educational. Beware, there is a link to the Discovery Shop.

    9. Kideos -- So they want video content, but you don't want to let them loose on YouTube? Try this site that's full of safe videos curated by a group of parents and educators so you don't have to watch them watching.

    10. Crayola -- It pushes the company's products, but I have to admit I love this site most because it pushes kids offline to create beyond the games that are on the site!

    What sites do you let your kids visit online?


    Image via noocar/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    jessica ridgewayWhen Austin Sigg suddenly decided to plead guilty to murdering 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway, just two days before his trial was set to begin earlier this fall, it was supposed to be a good thing for the dead child's family. Finally, they could have a little closure. But now a sentencing hearing under way for the 18-year-old Colorado teenager is re-opening the wounds as it paints a picture of the little girl's last moments with a depraved killer.

    Jessica reportedly begged to get back home to her mom, but it didn't sway her killer. In fact, cops have revealed that even as the then-17-year-old Sigg laid out his confession for murder, detailing how he kidnapped and dismembered the little girl, he nonchalantly ate a snack.

    Quite frankly, the details of the crime that I've read on the Internet today have put my stomach in knots so twisted that I'm not sure I can eat for the rest of the day. And here he ate a snack as he confessed to doing this himself?

    The nonchalance Sigg has had toward this entire thing puts in question a Colorado law that might let the 18-year-old out of prison one day.

    Sigg pleaded guilty to a total of 15 charges, including first-degree murder, kidnapping, sexual assault of a child, and sexual exploitation of a child for what he did to Jessica. Prosecutors tacked on another charge of attempted kidnapping for an attack on a jogger at a nearby lake last Memorial Day.

    Scary enough stuff that you'd think he should spend his life behind bars, especially considering his lack of remorse and distaste for his own crimes.

    But get this: because he was just 17 when he committed the crime -- he turned 18 in jail -- he may fall under a Colorado law that dictates juveniles sentenced to life in prison must be eligible for parole after serving 40 years of their sentence.


    It gets crazier. Austin was charged as an adult because he was so close to 18 and because of the depravity of his crimes.

    Crimes he confessed to.


    So which is it, Colorado? Is he a sick and twisted adult or a juvenile who needs a little compassion? I'm thinking it's the former ... because Austin Sigg certainly didn't show any compassion to Jessica Ridgeway!

    What do you think the sentence should be here?


    Image via Westminster Police

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Dinovember crayonsQuick. What month is it? Did you say Dinovember? Then you might be one of the coolest parents in the world, right behind Refe and Susan Tuma, aka the mom and dad who have created a prehistoric parenting movement to convince kids that plastic dinosaurs are ALIIIIIVE!

    The project got off the ground last year, when one of the Tumas' four kids was dealing with some health issues. For fun, mom Susan set up their plastic dinosaurs with some toothbrushes by the sink as a joke, and their middle daughter proclaimed they'd come to life at night. And a month-long project was born!

    Today the Tumas have more than 200,000 folks following along on their Dinovember Facebook page as they create crazy hijinks for T-Rex and pals every night. We asked them how they keep things interesting ... and don't they ever have a night when they're just too exhausted to throw a dino disaster?

    Here's what Susan Tuma had to say:

    On how they find the energy to keep the fun alive:

    I have four children, and one of them is 5 weeks old. I don't have the time or the energy! It's not something that has to be elaborate at all. Half of the time last year we tossed some cereal around and made a little mess that our kids would have made the next morning anyway. Our house is already a mess, so no big deal!

    On where their ideas come from:

    The ideas aren't usually planned out. We pretty much wander the house until inspiration strikes. The dinosaurs have come to life a bit for us as well now, so it's not too hard to imagine what they might come up with.

    On whether they've ever been caught by the kids:

    Every night we have a panic moment when somebody gets up and stumbles down the steps for a glass of water. But so far, so good!

    On the kids' response:

    The kids LOVE the dinosaurs and talked about them all year last year. They immediately search the house and get a good laugh at whatever escapade has occurred. When the dinosaurs graffitied the wall, our 5-year-old daughter said, "Mom, maybe it's time to have a garage sale ..." Our 6-year-old VERY quickly objected.

    On why the parents love it:

    One of the things that happened is that it engaged a part of us that we hadn't been able to connect with in a long time: we were having FUN.

    As an artist, I hardly ever get to engage the creative part of myself with so many young kids. They're all under 7 years old! Fingerpainting doesn't exactly fulfill my creative heart. There's something about doing what you love (even if it's dinosaur-themed) that is energizing. My husband is a writer -- this sparked his imagination and allowed him to think up stories to engage our children with. We do stay up a little later in November, but it's something that's really revitalized our family. And if it gets to be too elaborate, we can always just have the dinosaurs have a movie night.


    We're totally inspired to throw a dino-riffic disaster in our homes, how about you? I think number 4 would be hilarious!

    What do your kids think their toys get up to at night?


    Image via Refe and Susan Tuma

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Ethan YoungIf you haven't already heard the name Ethan Young, get ready. The Tennessee high school student will soon be a household name thanks in no small part to a speech that's gone viral. In just five minutes, the high school senior systematically takes apart the Common Core education initiative, which is so controversial that thousands of parents kept their kids home from school today to protest it.

    Whether you agree with his argument or not, it's nice to see a teenager taking a stand. But Young isn't just well-spoken. He's well-researched.

    Check out some of the highlights of his impressive speech, given at a Knox County School Board meeting:

    1. I stand before you because I care about education, but also because I want to support my teachers. And just as they fought for my academic achievement, so I want to fight for their ability to teach.

    2. Standards-based education is ruining the way we teach and learn.

    3. Much like No Child Left Behind, the program promises national testing and a one-size-fits-all education, because hey, it worked so well the first time.

    4. If everything I learn in high school is a measurable objective, I have not learned anything.

    5. Somewhere our Founding Fathers are turning in their graves -- pleading, screaming, and trying to say to us that we teach to free minds. We teach to inspire. We teach to equip, the careers will come naturally.

    Watch Ethan's inspiring speech:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    How do you feel about Common Core? Is it helping your kids or hurting them?


    Image via Ethan Young/YouTube

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Briana DeJesus Devoin AustinIf you missed part one of the Teen Mom 3 reunion special with Dr. Drew, you missed the absolute most dramatic moment of this season! Forget Matt McCann overdosing. Forget Josh McKee losing it on Mackenzie. It turns out when you put Devoin Austin and Briana DeJesus' family in one room, it becomes a Jerry Springer special in the blink of an eye!

    The explosion was so big it totally overshadowed Katie Yeager's big news of the night!

    As for that -- she and Joey Maes are back together. Or, at least, they were when Dr. Drew got the Teen Mom 3 girls together for a reunion special. In real life, Katie's single once again, so let's call that non-news and get back to the craziness that is Devoin being confronted by the DeJesus women.

    Briana is a lucky girl. Unlike some of the other moms we've seen on this show, she has a very strong support network with mama Roxanne and big sister Brittany always available to lend a hand in raising little Nova. But sometimes they can be a little too involved.

    More From The Stir: 'Teen Mom' Star's Husband May Have Gotten Another Girl Pregnant

    Dr. Drew was already losing control of the situation between Devoin and Briana as the young mother went off on her deadbeat baby daddy, refusing to let him get a word in edgewise as she yelled at him. But it looked like he would be able to turn the tide ... until Brittany started yelling from backstage, and then burst out to fight with Devoin, followed quickly by Roxanne, who was pulling off her high heel -- to hurl it at Devoin, maybe?

    Devoin himself was no innocent here, jumping up and looking like he was going to hit Brittany, screaming and cursing at the top of his lungs. It was so volatile there for a few moments that security had to actually escort him out.

    Someone -- it sounded like Devoin -- actually referred to the whole debacle as a Jerry Springer moment, and they were right on the money.

    We're talking about important issues here, and it can be hard to keep your emotions in check when you're talking about the well-being of a child, but for that child's sake, you must! Nova doesn't need this kind of stress in her life as she grows up, especially if she does decide if she wants to have some sort of relationship with her father.

    Briana later admitted that her family has set Devoin up to fail because they're so protective of Nova. On the other hand, Devoin himself admitted he's screwed up a lot and pledged he's going to the courts to actually get himself set up to provide child support.

    So there's hope that things will get better! Maybe.

    I just hope they get a handle on it soon -- there won't always be a celebrity therapist and security guards on hand to break things up!

    Did you think Brittany was out of line or do you fault Devoin here?


    Image via MTV

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Mackenzie Douthit Josh MckeeYou might want to sit down for this one, Teen Mom fans. Mackenzie Douthit McKee dropped a bomb on us during part two of the Dr. Drew reunion special of Teen Mom 3. Would you believe she and Josh McKee went through a cheating scandal?

    Believe it! Because the pregnant Teen Mom let the world in on what was going on off-camera during the first season of the show, and let's just say it's amazing they made it to the altar at all!

    It turns out Mackenzie cheated on Josh.

    And then to get back at her, Josh had a one-night stand!

    At the time of Mackenzie's hook-up, she says she and Josh weren't not together, but Josh wasn't exactly returning her calls either. So she went looking for comfort from someone, and she found it with a guy whom she declined to name. But she did indicate to Dr. Drew in not so many words that there was sex involved.


    No wonder things were so tense between her and Josh in the season finale! They had a lot to get past.

    More From The Stir: Josh Loses It on Mackenzie in Front of Gannon

    But believe it or not, cheating was far from the only big bombshell of the night. Turns out the reason Josh was such a jerk onscreen all season had a lot to do with his addiction topainkillers!

    The Josh we saw last night was like a whole different guy. As Dr. Drew said, he went from saying only a few words the last time the two had met to talking ... like a normal person.

    He even put his arm around Mackenzie and planted a passionate kiss on her for the audience -- a far cry from the robotic, distant boyfriend who barely grunted at her all season.

    This news actually put the cheating in perspective, big time. It may not have been right, per se, but Mackenzie was put in an untenable position by Josh this season. Between the head trauma he suffered riding broncos and the painkillers he was using to deal with it, he had cut himself off completely from her and from Gannon. Try as she might to break down that wall, there was little she could humanly do to compete with that.

    Does Josh's behavior mitigate what Mackenzie did?


    Image via MTV

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Breeanna SpeicherMTV has been using the "Mondays Are a Mother" tag-line for quite some time to promote Teen Mom, but with the wrap-up of Teen Mom 3 this week, Mondays are about to be about fathers. The search for a father, that is. Generation Cryo is MTV's latest documentary series about a teenager, only Breeanna Speicher doesn't have any kids. Instead the 17-year-old is a child on a mission: to find the man whose donor sperm her two moms used to bring her into this world.

    The show won't premiere on MTV until next Monday, November 25 in the Teen Mom time slot. But it got an early release exclusively via the MTV app at midnight, and The Stir got a sneak peek.

    Should you add it to your Monday nights?

    Well, let's just say it's not Teen Mom.

    Which isn't necessarily a bad thing! Teen Mom broke ground when it first appeared on television screens, letting us into the lives of people living through a situation as old as time but who have taken the path less followed.

    Generation Cryo breaks ground of its own, albeit by allowing us into the lives of people living a situation that's much newer -- thanks to technology -- but also markedly different than the "norm."

    The documentary series gets off to a start by introducing Breeanna, who goes by Bree, and diving into the concept of donor siblings. Made with the same sperm, they come from different families across the United States and often have never even met. But now thanks to a registry where kids can enter their donor's ID number, Bree is making contact with her half-siblings in an attempt to figure out where she came from.

    Her first stop -- after breaking the news to her moms that she wants to find her donor father -- is a home in Atlanta, Georgia, where the Jacobson twins, Hilit and Jonah, live with their biological mother and their father. At least, the twins think of Eric Jacobson as their father, although on a technical level, he isn't related to them. Their mom conceived with donor sperm from the same man whose sperm was used to conceive Breeanna.

    Generation Cryo would make for a compelling story if it were simply one teenage girl trying to find her dad, but it's in the visits to see her donor siblings (more are scheduled in future episodes) that the show's strength lies.

    Every kid's thoughts on their donor are different. And so are the parents'. Where Bree's bio mom is eager to let her find her donor dad, her "other" mom is more wary of losing her place in her daughter's life as the non-biological parent.

    Bree encounters a similar issue at the Jacobson home, where Terri Jacobson is curious to find out more about the man who helped give life to her children, but Eric confesses a deeply held insecurity about his sterility and the resulting manner in which his children were conceived.

    In short, the documentary series manages to take a process conceived (pun very much intended) by scientists and a lab and reveal its very human emotional components.

    The first episode of Generation Cryo was at times funny, at times sad, but overall -- dare I say it -- hopeful. Bree isn't a kid in trouble; she is a kid who is grateful for the life she has, and looking to make it that much richer by learning more about who she is.

    If every episode is like the first, I'm going to stay glued to my MTV on Monday nights.

    Check out a sneak peek:

    Generation Cryo - Full Episodes

    Will you be watching Generation Cryo? Is this a good replacement for Teen Mom on Mondays?


    Image via MTV

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    police carPolice who were asked to check in on a family of four at a house in Arlington, Massachusetts came upon a heartbreaking scene this week. An entire family is dead -- a dad, a mom, and their twin sons. Scott Jones and Mei Kum Jones' baby boys would have turned a year old next Monday, but cops say they died "violently" just a week shy of their 1st birthday.

    Not surprisingly, neighbors are shaken, but it isn't because of any threat to them. Cops released a statement meant to settle residents' nerves. They say no one's in danger anymore, so they should move on.

    But can anyone really do that when an entire family up the street is dead?

    Said Arlington Police Chief Frederick Ryan:

    There is no risk to public safety at this time. We’re quite certain the community is safe and people can go about their business this evening.

    But how? How do you go about your business with this in your midst?

    Based on what the cops are saying, I guess we're supposed to think it was an isolated incident that relates only to this family. Some family and friends who spoke to the media shared details of the Jones' troubled marriage, including an impending divorce.

    We don't yet know how the family of four died, and for the sake of the Jones' family members, I won't go jumping to any conclusions here -- even though I'm sure the neighborhood is, despite the cops' admonishments. How can they not?

    Perhaps I'm just a nosy neighbor, or maybe it's because I was raised in a small town where everyone didn't just know their neighbor but had an investment in one another, but in my experience, when something terrible happens to one family in a neighborhood, it happens to them all. There is no shrugging off the deaths of two little babies you used to see in their stroller going for walks with mom. There is no going about your day when a family was slaughtered just a few hundred feet from your house.

    My heart goes out to the families of Scott and Mei Jones and their little boys today.

    How do you deal with tragedies in your neighborhood? Do you just figure it's none of your business or are you drawn to the details?


    Image via Matty Ring/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    baby sleeping with puppyThere have been countless studies over the years about the benefits of pets for little kids. The scientists will tell you they do everything from help reduce allergies to make kids more responsible. But let's just forget all of that for a second. If you've happened to catch the photos of a baby napping with his puppy that have been making the rounds of the web recently, you know they're also awfully cute together!

    The photos were snapped by mom blogger Jessica Shyba whose family adopted little Theo from a shelter after her older kids begged Santa for a puppy last year. The puppy belongs to the whole family, but as the Momma's Gone City blogger explains, he's really bonded with baby Beau.

    On her blog, Shyba calls the duo's naptime ritual the "most organic and beautiful friendship I have ever witnessed."

    I've (only half) jokingly referred to my dog as my daughter's sibling because they share the same sort of friendship. The child asks for love, and the dog gives it, unconditionally. How many relationships will a child experience in life that work that way? I dare say none!

    If only every baby could have this from the get-go. Check out some of our favorite photos of their naptime. Just look at the way they hold each other in number 4 and try not to saw "awww."

    You can follow along on Instagram at hashtag #TheoAndBeau as Shyba tries to raise money for the Santa Cruz SPCA where the family adopted their son's best friend.

    Do your kids sleep with their pets? What bonds them together?


    Image via Instagram

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Kailyn Lowry Javi MarroquinMoms and dads have been known to look just about everywhere for baby name inspiration -- from the color wheel to erotic literature. But Teen Mom 2 star Kailyn Lowry seems to prefer naming her babies after celebrities. After all, her new baby was named for a popular rapper!

    Kail's second child, first with husband Javi Marroquin, shocked the world when he arrived over the weekend. Bets were leaning heavily toward Kailyn having a girl. Instead she introduced the world to little Lincoln Marshall Marroquin.

    The first name seems to fall in line with the alphabetic listing of her family's names -- Isaac, Javi, Kailyn, and now Lincoln. But what's with the middle name?

    More From The Stir: 'Teen Mom 3' Dr. Drew Reunion Turns Into Jerry Springer Special

    According to Kail herself, the little guy was named for rapper Eminem, aka Marshall Mathers. As she said on Twitter:

    @TKeelen@JaviM9 We were considering Holden but you got where Marshall came from. ;)

    — Kailyn Lowry (@KailLowry) November 17, 2013

    Little Lincoln Marshall joins big brother Isaac in being named for a celebrity -- Kail took her inspiration from one of the Hanson brothers for baby number one.

    No doubt, Marshall is a good, solid name. According to the Baby Name Finder, it means steward or caretaker of horses. Kailyn and Javi chose well -- their little boy has two names that aren't too popular but are normal and easy to grow into.

    But Eminem? Isn't that the guy who drops gay slurs on the regular in his music? Not exactly a role model! Imagine your kid says, hey, I'm named for that guy, I should look up to him? Yikes!

    This is the problem with looking to celebrities for baby names. There are plenty of good names out there, but the people behind them aren't always folks you want your kid looking up to! Even someone who seems to be pretty decent at the time you give birth can turn into a real jackass in the end (anyone want to talk about the people who named their kids Miley 10 years ago?).

    Then again, this little guy does share a name with one pretty amazing president ...

    Who is your baby named after? What do you think of Kail's baby name inspiration?


    Image via Instagram

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