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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.

    Farrah Abraham Couples TherapyDaaaaang! Farrah Abraham knows how to turn up the heat on a controversy! The former Teen Mom turned porn star showed up on Couples Therapy last night sans partner -- as expected. But seeing as the show is pre-taped, it didn't give her a chance to respond to "boyfriend" Brian Dawe's claims that the duo faked their relationship just to get on TV.

    So what's a girl who's been slammed in the tabloids to do when she can't respond on national television? Take to Twitter to give a piece of her mind, of course! Farrah responded to the fake boyfriend controversy and how!

    Fuck loser boyfriends who use me! & can't face the truth!! I can face the music WATCH! NEW SEASON #4 of @VH1@CouplesTherapyV@DrJennQuote

    — Farrah Abraham (@F1abraham) January 2, 2014

    Sooo, Dawe was using her? What the what?

    Somehow Farrah's claim would be easier to believe if Dawe had actually shown up on Couples Therapy with her and gotten some good fame out of this whole mess. Instead he blew it off -- which we saw on the premiere last night -- and he has produced emails detailing his exchange with producers who were pushing him to show up. He's 'fessing up to the fake relationship, but he doesn't exactly look GOOD in all of this.

    More From The Stir: Farrah Abraham's 'Boyfriend' Finally Comes Clean About Their Relationship

    So what did he use Farrah for?

    And since Farrah brought the very word up, what is this "truth" she speaks of?

    Dawe is actually the second guy who has made claims of a fake relationship with Farrah to get her a TV show. Then there's the whole nebulous source of her porn flick -- was it really a private sex tape that was accidentally leaked or a calculated move by a fame-hungry young woman to get herself a payday?

    It seems like every word that comes out of this girl's mouth (or off her fingers when it comes to Twitter) has to be evaluated for the "truth."

    What do you think is real?

     

    Image via Instagram


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    loveAs far as "how we met" stories go, I once thought my husband's and mine was a little embarrassing. But these days meeting on the Internet and ending up married with kid(s) is increasingly common. As much as 23 percent of folks in a recent Pew poll said they married or entered into a long-term relationship with someone they met via online dating.

    I'm no longer nervous about telling people I met my husband online. I am, however, growing increasingly nervous about telling my daughter how I met her father!

    Online dating worked for me. I met my best friend and eventual life partner. I recommend it to pretty much anyone.

    Wait. Scratch that. I recommend it to consenting adults who are well aware of the risks of opening oneself up online and are able to protect themselves.

    More From The Stir: 5 Online Manners Kids Need to Learn Before Age 15

    My 8-year-old is neither of those. Just letting her on the Internet to play games and search for photos of pandas is scary because of the world we live in.

    A friend recently related a story of checking up on her 11-year-old who she believed to be chatting with a boy from school on the Internet. My friend heard the boy asking her 11-year-old daughter "send me a pic."

    An 11-year-old!

    Needless to say, the mom put an end to chatting with that particular boy and sat her daughter down for yet another Internet safety lecture. Note that I said another -- she'd already talked to her daughter about what not to do online. But her daughter, who is bright and funny and a lovely kid all around, is still just a kid. Kids don't always listen or "get" why their parents are so stressed.

    This is part of what worries me about telling my daughter that I met her daddy on the Internet.

    There are good people out there on the Internet; hundreds of thousands of them. I certainly don't want her to be afraid of going on the Internet or one day -- when she's old enough to branch beyond playing games with her cousins or friends from school -- interacting with strangers. But I also don't want her thinking that every guy out there will be a sweetheart like her Daddy. I don't want her to walk into every situation expecting it to be like her parents'.

    The fact is, my husband and I made mistakes along the way. We were careful but probably not AS careful as we could have been. We were both lucky that the other was not an axe murderer.

    I think about how lucky we were every time I talk to my daughter about going online; each time I reiterate that she should not share her real name or tell anyone where she is from, warn her to come straight to me if anyone starts asking for her personal information.

    How do I tell my daughter that I did exactly what I'm telling her not to do? That I once told a strange boy my name and gave him my phone number? That he used to send me physical letters because he had my home address?

    Sure, I will tell her that I was much older than she is now. My husband and I were both teenagers when we met. But I know how kids listen. They tend to take in certain bits of a story, but they don't always understand nuance. They tend to chafe at the inference that they're too young for anything.

    My only choice is to be honest, keep up the Internet safety lectures and monitoring, and hope that my kid gets it.

    But I'm not bringing it up until she asks!

    How did you meet your spouse? What have you told your kids about it?

     

    Image by Jeanne Sager


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Corey Simms Miranda SimmsThere's nothing quite like a pregnancy rumor, and the stars of Teen Mom 2 are plagued with them, aren't they? Every time you turn around, it seems like another star of the reality series is with child, or rumored to be anyway. But at least one star is a little tired of people saying there's another baby on the way.

    So tired that Leah Calvert's ex-husband Corey Simms has come out to set the record straight!

    Corey's wife, Miranda Patterson Simms, had unwittingly started baby rumors herself when she tweeted that the couple was "blessed beyond measurement," but unlike co-star Jenelle Evans, there is no bun in that oven. In fact, Corey took to Twitter this past weekend to let the world know exactly what is going on with his wife's uterus:

    No babies for us for a while. Going to take time and enjoy our first year or so as newlyweds. @mirandabridget

    — Corey Simms (@CoreySimms2) January 4, 2014

    Looks like twins Aleeah and AliannahSimms are going to have make do with little sister Adalynn Faith Calvert ... for now anyway.

    More From The Stir: Farrah Abraham Fires Back at 'Fake Boyfriend' Brian Dawe

    Considering the couple were only just married in June, it's a bit of a relief to hear they're waiting on babymaking. We all remember what happened the LAST time Corey rushed into fatherhood with a girl. It's how he landed on Teen Mom 2 in the first place ... and in a marriage that ended in divorce.

    If these two want to have sticking power, they should take all the time they need before adding to their family. Besides, there are enough new babies for the Teen Mom 2 family already.

    What do you think of Corey's announcement? Are you surprised they aren't having a baby yet?

     

    Image via Jeff Simms/Twitter


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    vaccineThere's no question vaccines are a hot parenting topic. Whether you're pro-vax or anti-vax (or somewhere in the middle), chances are you've thought long and hard about whether to get your baby immunized. But if you've been focusing all your research -- and your ultimate decision -- on vaccine safety, you're missing half the puzzle. What about all the diseases those vaccines prevent?

    The very reason vaccines were invented was because the bulk of these diseases can be dangerous -- even life-threatening -- to your baby. The CDC estimates millions of lives have been saved by vaccines. If you still think they're no big deal, that millions of people lived through them and they're just fine, perhaps it's time to hear the story of Amy Parker, a 37-year-old mother of two who grew up with a "health nut" for a mother who refused to vaccinate her daughter.

    Parker grew up unvaccinated, and as a result, she contracted not one, not two, but more than half a dozen vaccine-preventable diseases as a kid.

    This despite being breastfed for a year, growing up on an all-organic diet, regularly playing outside in the fresh air, and, well, doing just about everything you'd expect the child of a "health nut" to do. All these good things weren't enough because Amy Parker's mom decided not to vaccinate. Here's what she had to say in an article for Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that promotes immunizing kids:

    As healthy as my lifestyle seemed, I contracted measles, mumps, rubella, a type of viral meningitis, scarlatina, whooping cough, yearly tonsillitis, and chickenpox, some of which are vaccine preventable. In my twenties I got precancerous HPV and spent 6 months of my life wondering how I was going to tell my two children under the age of 7 that mummy might have cancer before it was safely removed ...

    If you’ve never had these illnesses you don’t know how awful they are -- I do. Pain, discomfort, the inability to breathe or to eat or to swallow, fever and nightmares, itching all over your body so much that you can’t stand lying on bed sheets, losing so much weight you can’t walk properly, diarrhea that leaves you lying prostrate on the bathroom floor, the unpaid time off work for parents (and if you’re self employed that means NO INCOME), the quarantine, missing school, missing parties, the worry, the sleepless nights, the sweat, the tears and the blood, the midnight visits to A and E, sitting in a doctor’s waiting room on your own because no one will sit near you because they’re rightfully scared of those spots all over your kid's face.

    Does any of that sound pleasant to you? Like something you want your kids to go through?

    Parker lived, it's true, but she did not escape childhood unscathed. I wonder: if her parents had known all of that would happen, would they have made the simple choice to prevent their child's pain and suffering?

    I can't see why not. I don't know any parent who willingly puts their child in harm's way.

    This is the rub for parents facing the decision of whether to vaccinate or not. None of us -- on either side of the fence -- actually want our children to be hurt. But where non-vaccing parents say they're protecting their kids from what they consider to be "dangers" from the vaccines, they conveniently discount the very real danger of actually contracting any of the vaccine-preventable diseases.

    One out of every 100 people who contracts pertussis (also known as whooping cough), for example, will die. One in four come down with pneumonia because of it, while one in 300 will see the disease spread to the brain.

    And yet, all it takes is a series of shots, and you don't have to worry about this disease stealing your child ... or putting them in a hospital.

    How can you argue with that?

    As you may have already guessed, I do vaccinate my child. I too was vaccinated. Because I grew up before some vaccines became available, I remember going through at least some of the childhood diseases anyway. I am among the infinitesimally small group of people who actually contracted the chicken pox twice.

    Although my memories of each bout with the disease are slim, the discomfort I recall -- and the knowledge that I'm at a heightened risk for the incredibly uncomfortable disease shingles down the road because I have had chicken pox -- made me surer than sure that my child would be vaccinated. The less suffering she goes through, the better.

    Some on the anti-vax side may call people like me and Parker sheep for "blindly" following what the pediatricians suggest for our kids. The fact is, I have read extensively about the risks of vaccines. I did my due diligence. But I didn't stop there.

    I also read about the risks to my child if she were to actually contract any of the countless diseases that vaccines prevent. Death. Loss of hearing. Loss of vision. Paralysis. Those are some of the truly scary ones, but I can't discount plain old misery and discomfort for days or even weeks at a time.

    It behooves everyone who plans to vaccinate their children to read up on whether or not the shots themselves are safe, but your decision cannot be made on the shot alone. Read up on what happens when you don't give your kids their immunizations ... because, folks, Parker's story, scary as it sounds, is actually one of the better ones. The unvaccinated kids who die every year don't get to share their tales.

    What worries you most about the vaccine-preventable diseases?

     

    Image via Army Medicine/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Old Spice momMothers of sons, I hate to break it to you, but at some point in time, you are going to have to cut the apron strings. I know, it will be hard. But don't worry! Help is coming at you from -- of all places -- a hilarious new Old Spice commercial

    The Mom Song Old Spice ad is like that creepy scene from the children's book about the mom who sneaks into her adult son's room for snuggles, only the mother/son love is amped up to 11 as you encounter mothers facing the heartbreaking reality that their teenage sons are turning into grown men:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    Haha! The ad is being called out as bizarre and a tad bit gross today, and for good reason. The mother hiding behind the door of her teenage son's room had a Jacosta and Oedipus overtone to it, and the mom on the beach (or should I say in) might just give me nightmares.

    But the best ads always gets us talking, and this one certainly has. And if you're a mother who coddles her not-so-little boy, I dare say you might take note of the creep factor ... this could be you in a few years, if you're not careful! YOU could be the next lady in a laundry basket bump, bump, bumping down the road, clinging to the bumper of Junior's car! That is if you don't back off just a wee bit and let him make the jump from "your little guy" to "man of the world."

    So do yourself (and him) a favor. Find your own life, would ya?

    Do you ever feel like your son is a mama's boy? Why?

     

    Image via dmv11graphics/YouTube


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    kitchen knifeWhen most of us think of the age 11, we're taken back to a simpler time, when our biggest worries were sixth grade math and catching cooties from the boy next door. But an 11-year-old girl from Texas has much deeper concerns after being arrested on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Police say the 11-year-old stabbed a female relative nine times while the woman was sleeping!

    Imagine such violent behavior at 11? Toshia Edmonson, who has been reported as the girl's mother by some media, woke up during the attack and was able to fend the child off.

    Taken to the hospital, Edmonson will survive the wounds from the kitchen knife that got her in the head, neck, and shoulder. That's good news for her and for the child, whose punishment -- if convicted -- will likely be much less because her alleged victim is alive.

    But just how does one punish an 11-year-old for what sounds like a violent attack of the kind that would put an adult behind bars for years? How does society as a whole come to terms with such depravity from a small child?

    As the mother of a child who is just three years shy of the 11 mark, I keep circling back to the alleged offender's age in my head.

    Eleven. She may not have even gotten her period yet. She probably hasn't kissed a boy yet. She may still play with Barbie dolls.

    She is still a child.

    The crime she's accused of committing, however, is not child-like. It is vicious. It is terrifying. It is one that must come with punishment, a punishment that fits the crime. 

    But what is that, exactly?

    It's scary to think of a child with those issues back out on the streets. But a number of studies on punishments for juvenile offenders have found that treating them like adults does nothing to prevent them from re-offending. Kids don't "scare straight" by being treated like adults, no matter how adult-like their crimes.

    The sad fact is that kids who commit adult crimes are still often kids. At least, an 11-year-old is still a kid, no matter what she's accused of doing. Stabbing a woman -- perhaps her mother -- nine times does not advance her by seven years.

    If anything, my biggest hope is that this little girl gets help. Punishment, yes, but the sort of punishment that helps shape her into a successful adult rather than one that ruins her life before it really begins.

    What do you think should be done with violent youthful offenders? Is there an age when they're just too young to punish?

     

    Image via seniju/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    american flagAmerica has many enemies, but there's one that every American parent fears. Child pornography. It's a growing problem that our nation's law enforcement struggles to defeat every day. But now there's a new weapon on the battlefield: a team of American military veterans, many of them wounded veterans who were facing the unknown after life in the military.

    They come from the sands of Iraq and Afghanistan, where they served with honor. Now their mission is to take down child predators. Oh, and get this: the 17-member team of veterans trained in computer forensics are volunteers!

    Technically, most members of the new team assigned to work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement are receiving disability compensation because of injury sustained while serving our country. They were already transitioning out of the military because of it when they were approached by ICE and offered the chance to get training in computer forensics that could help them in the job market down the road.

    But while they're with ICE, they'll be fighting once again for our nation's children. So it's not quite the same as driving a Humvee through an area where insurgents might be ready to blow them up, but there's a heroism to this too.

    It's simply a different kind than we tend to have in mind when we think of our nation's military.

    Viewing this sort of material isn't for the faint of heart, folks. These soldiers have to go through disgusting images of innocent children, the sort of thing that would turn your stomach.

    Can you imagine volunteering to do it?

    Me neither. It takes someone special to put aside their distaste for the sake of those kids. And kudos to these guys who have!

    Especially when you consider the end game -- shutting down child pornographers doesn't just mean getting these creeps off the street, it means getting them away from kids they are hurting and kids they may hurt in the long run. It very literally saves children's lives.

    A huge thank you to these folks for their service -- both in the military and now.

    What do you think of this program? Would you ever be able to volunteer to do something like this?

     

    Image via evilthomthai/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    bedwettingThe day my daughter was officially potty trained ranks right up in my top 10 mom moments ever. Maybe even the top five. Not much can take you down from the high of knowing you'll never have to change a dirty diaper again. Well, except maybe bedwetting.

    I don't mean the kids who are still peeing in their jammies at night because you rushed them into undies when they really aren't fully potty trained. I mean having a big kid who knows how to use the potty and do it on the regular who is waking up soaking wet morning after morning.

    That'd put a damper on that potty training completion celebration, wouldn't it (pun very much intended)? And some 15 percent of kids have the problem well beyond age 3, which is about when most kids are potty trained.

    The truth is, it's not unheard of for a 6-year-old to be peeing in the middle of the night without waking up to use the bathroom. Yup, a 6-year-old! In fact, as much as 13 percent of kids that age are still waking up to wet sheets. By age 10, some 5 percent of kids still need a liner on the mattress.

    So what's a parent to do? First off, check for any kind of emotional disturbances. A kid who is upset about something as simple as moving to a new house or getting a new sibling can turn into a bedwetter. A talk with their pediatrician is definitely in order to rule this out as well as any underlying health issues.

    No serious health or emotional issues? That's good news. No really. It may be frustrating that there is no clear "cause" for the wet sheets, but the truth is most kids who are bedwetters are pretty OK emotionally and in fine health. It's just as likely that they're a deep sleeper who isn't awakened by the sensation of having to use the bathroom.

    So what's a parent to do to cut down on all that extra laundry? We asked some parents of bedwetters for their tricks:

    5 Real Mom Tips on Dealing With a Bedwetter

    1. Cut out liquids close to bedtime. I know parents who let their kids take a glass to water to bed, and then they wonder why their son pees in the middle of the night?

    2. Wake the child to use the bathroom. If you have a child who sleeps from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., is it any wonder their young bladder can't handle it? Try waking them before you go to bed to use the bathroom one last time. A mom who has done this successfully says the key is to keep lights to a minimum. Her son wakes up but isn't shocked into full waking by all the light -- so he gets back to sleep easily (and remains dry).

    3. Make bathroom access a priority. A friend found out her son wasn't sleeping through the need to pee -- he would wake up, but then he was afraid to go to the toilet in the dark. She set up night lights in the hallway and in the bathroom, and voila ... dry nights!

    4. Reward them. A sticker chart helping them work up to a big prize can be a major motivator, but don't just use it for dry nights. One mom says she started doing this to reward her daughter for remembering to stop drinks after dinner or for remembering to go to the bathroom before bed. Having a kid who is motivated to do that can make all the difference.

    5. Make the bed with two sets of sheets -- and a mattress protector in between. One mom who was tired of re-making her son's bed every night shared this genius tip. She would make the bed with a mattress protector and clean fitted sheet. THEN she would place a mattress protector over it, then add ANOTHER clean fitted sheet. If her son peed in the night, all she had to do was throw him a new pair of jammies and pull off the one set of sheets and the protector. It didn't stop his bedwetting, but everyone got a lot more sleep in their house.

    Whatever you do, make sure you don't yell at your child or punish them for bedwetting. This is likely not something they can control ... and no amount of "discipline" or screaming will change it.

    What are your best tips for dealing with a bedwetter?

     

    Image via Patrick Lane Photography/Corbis


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Jenelle EvansWhat a difference a few years makes! The last time we saw Jenelle Evans with a baby, the Teen Mom 2 star was dumping little Jace on mom Barbara so she could get out and par-tay. But now that she's expecting baby number two with boyfriend Nathan Griffith, Jenelle is singing a different tune.

    Taking a page out of co-star Kailyn Lowry's crunchy mama book, Jenelle says she's gung-ho to breastfeed! Yes Jenelle!!

    But wait, didn't she have a boob job? Don't worry, she's thought about that already:

    @ReneeFeddyFed@GroundLevelUp yes I am going to breast feed! I can with implants! That blows my mind lol only if they r under the muscle

    — Jenelle Evans (@PBandJenelley_1) January 2, 2014

    It's nice to hear the Teen Mom thinking about what's best for baby, isn't it? Turns out she's right too -- many women who have implants CAN breastfeed.

    More From The Stir: Farrah Abraham Fires Back at 'Fake Boyfriend' Brian Dawe

    Note I said many, not all. Women who have undergone a mastectomy and breast reconstruction often cannot breastfeed because the glands that produce milk may have been removed. The biggest concern the La Leche League cites for any woman who has undergone breast surgery -- be it a reduction, augmentation, or a complete reconstruction -- is whether or not milk ducts and/or nerves were damaged in the process.

    But some doctors estimate that as many as 90 percent of women who have gone the augmentation route will have no trouble breastfeeding because, as Jenelle said, the implant is placed under the muscle, which should prevent any interference between the glands and the nipple. If Jenelle -- or any mom -- is concerned, the best bet is to reach out to the original surgeon for details on how things went down.

    Who knows if Jenelle will actually breastfeed or not. Girlfriend changes her mind every 10 minutes. But the fact that she's thinking about it is a good sign. Maybe Kailyn's influence is rubbing off on her?

    Are you shocked by Jenelle's breastfeeding announcement?

     

    Image via Instagram


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    teen free nose jobWhat would you do if your child was getting bullied over the way she looked? Pull her out of school? Get counseling? How about applying for a free nose job for your teen?

    The latter is what the mother of a 15-year-old named Renata did ... after her daughter had spent three years being homeschooled to escape relentless torture from classmates. The teen got free plastic surgery from a non-profit called Little Baby Face, which funds such procedures for kids with birth defects from low-income families.

    It all sounds pretty reasonable ... until you get to Renata's mom's description of the whole thing.

    The mother, who wasn't named in the Today show segment about the surgery done to correct her daughter's deviated septum and a chin implant put in place to balance out her face, had this to say:

    Parents correct kids’ teeth with braces to make their teeth straighter. They’re still the same kid on the inside, but, unfortunately, people are judged on how they look.

    Wait, did she really just compare elective plastic surgery to shut up bullies to putting braces on a child's teeth?

    That's a dangerous road to walk down, folks, a very dangerous road. Plastic surgery may well be effective for kids who are being bullied mercilessly because the truth is that kids can be very cruel, and parents often have little recourse against that. I don't fault a parent for trying to find help for their child.

    I am, however, unsettled by this trend of using elective surgeries to fix kids' problems because the more often it happens, the more "normal" it sounds. So normal that a mom is actually trying to convince us that it's like putting braces on a child's teeth.

    An estimated 4.8 million Americans wear braces, the overwhelming majority of which are children.

    Do we really want 4.8 million kids having plastic surgery? You see what I mean about a dangerous road!

    More From The Stir: A Nose Job Won't Fix Your Kid

    Orthodontia does affect the way a child looks. It's true. I say that as someone whose crooked teeth were not fixed as a child.

    But by and large the reason for spending beaucoup bucks on your child's mouth is less about what people will think about them and more about their general health. Straightening a child's teeth at a young age can guide proper jaw growth and prevent problems with their teeth down the road. Braces can help a child with chewing, which aids in overall nutrition, and allow for better brushing, which will keep teeth from disease.

    Plastic surgeries like the one Renata got, on the other hand, can certainly help a child's self esteem and maybe even get the bullies off her back. But it's not the only option by far! At best, it's a last resort.

    Check out Renata's story:

    Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    Do you think plastic surgery is in line with braces for kids? Would you allow your child to have this done if it were free?

     

    Image via Today


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Javi MarroquinAttention members of the military who go online to pick on their brothers in arms. Consider this your notice. Kailyn Lowry is watching you!

    The Teen Mom 2 star married Javi Marroquin on the last season of the show just as he was enlisting in the Air Force. Since then she's become a proud military spouse, and really started paying attention to what is said on the Internets about members of our armed forces.

    And what she sees, well, it makes Kail mad!

    More From The Stir: 'Teen Mom' Jenelle Evans' Decision to Breastfeed Surprises Even Her

    The reality star took to Twitter this week to denounce the bullies who exist within the armed forces:

    It's really sad to see airmen talking shit to other airmen online. I don't think that's what you're taught in BMT & tech school.

    — Kail Lowry-Marroquin (@KailLowry) January 6, 2014

    She's got a point. Whatever happened to Aim High, fellas? They should be above hurting one another.

    Really we all should be above cyberbullying. It would be a nicer world if no one had to worry about logging onto their Twitter or YouTube accounts to see some of the daily detritus of the Internet.

    But Kailyn is a reality star who is pretty used to the crap that's thrown at her on a daily basis and tends to be good at rising above it. Yet she made a point to call this out, and I can see why.

    Among any group, you're always going to have bad seeds who have nothing better to do than drag the whole group down. But critics of our nation's military spend enough time deriding the job that these men and women do in service of country. Do they really need people on the inside doing the job for them? Tearing each other down?

    Some folks commented back to Kail that this is just the way things go in the military, but the Teen Mom said she's going to screenshot it and report it when she sees it.

    How about you? Would you go so far as to report these people or is Kailyn over-reaching?

     

    Image via Instagram


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    policeCalling the police is supposed to make us feel better, make us feel safer, like someone is on our side. But the shooting of a mentally ill teenager by cops has people feeling anything but safe right now. Keith Vidal's parents had called for help with their son who was going through a schizophrenic episode.

    The 18-year-old high schooler was wielding a screwdriver, but his parents say officers were in the process of calming him down when a third officer arrived on the scene and shot the boy.

    At least one officer, a nine-year veteran, has been placed on administrative leave as police in Boiling Springs Lake, North Carolina review the shooting. What comes of the investigation could well determine whether he will ever work as an officer again. In one report out of the Vidal house, the 90-pound teenager had supposedly already been tased when he was shot! What kind of threat could he have presented, screwdriver or no screwdriver, if he'd been tased?

    Granted, we don't know enough about what happened in the Vidal house to say why the teenager is dead. What we do know is that of late there have been too many situations where folks turned to the cops for help only for the police to be fingered for causing tragedy.

    Just this past October, a family in Georgia made the news after a woman said she called for an ambulance for her diabetic fiance because she was worried about his medicine. Instead police showed up and said the woman's 43-year-old fiance, Jack Lamar Roberson, was combative. They shot him, dead, in front of his family.

    Then there's the case of Tyler Comstock. After an argument with his dad, the teen took off in the dad's car. Thinking he'd teach the boy a lesson, the father called police and reported the vehicle stolen. Comstock led the police on a chase that ended with the allegedly unarmed teenager being shot -- six times -- by police. 

    Like the case of Keith Vidal, both Roberson and Comstock would be here today if members of their family hadn't gotten the authorities involved.

    How scary is that for families? To wonder if calling the cops will actually make things worse, not better?

    I happen to have a lot of respect for law enforcement and the work they do. A number of relatives and friends work as police officers, and I know they take their jobs seriously. I know too that they put their lives on the line daily in order to keep the rest of us safe. They deal with some really scary situations, situations most of us would never dream of approaching.

    It's my respect for officers like my cousin and my friends that make these sort of cases so troubling. As a whole, law enforcement is full of good people. But then there are these folks who make a bad name for the rest of them, who truly make you wonder whose side the cops are on.

    As a society we depend on our police officers to be there when we need help the most. To think that people would be better off without them is a scary thought indeed.

    How do you feel about the police in your area? Are they likely to help or hurt a situation?

     

    Image via zigazou76/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Mary Kay LetourneauHere's a name you probably haven't heard in awhile. Mary Kay Letourneau. 'Memba her? The teacher who had raped her (gag) sixth grade student, went to prison, got out, and ended up marrying him and having two of his babies? She's baaaaack!

    Back in a courtroom that is. The former sixth grade teacher turned convicted child rapist turned wife of Vili Fualaau was arrested earlier this week.

    The way the story goes, Letourneau was pulled over by a cop in January 2013 for expired license tags when he found she also had a suspended driver’s license for unpaid traffic tickets. At the time, Letourneau was ordered to go through a relicensing program, only cops say she never followed through. A warrant for her arrest was issued in the fall, and this week she was nabbed for allegedly driving with a suspended license and failure to appear.

    Does this woman have any moral compass at all?

    More From The Stir: Mary Kay Letourneau Becomes Grandmother, Is Still Clueless

    I mean, if you're depraved enough to rape a 12-year-old, you're obviously not much of a rule follower. And considering she ended up marrying Fualaau when she got out of prison, it's obvious Letourneau is not one for learning from her mistakes either.

    But I guess us good citizens always kind of hold out hope that people will figure out they need to straighten up at some point. She does have those two kids to think about (well, and several more with her ex-husband). Shouldn't being a good role model for them be on her mind?

    Or has that ship sailed?

    Sadly, I think there are some people who just don't see a point in following laws. They're not necessarily psychopaths who will go on murdering sprees, so their "mistakes" may well fly under the radar. But when you've flaunted the law the way Letourneau has, even the smaller things make national headlines ... and out you as a serial offender.

    Maybe we should just be surprised it took her this long to land back in trouble?

    What do you think of Letournea's latest hijinks?

     

    Image via Washington Corrections Center for Women


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    How to Keep Kids Safe in the Cold

    Unless you've been stuck under a very, very warm rock, you've probably noticed a chunk of the nation is under an epic cold spell at the moment. The polar vortex has taken hold, and who knows when Mother Nature will let go. What we do know is this: it's coooooold out there.

    If you're raising one of those kids who is always losing her gloves or "forgetting" to zip up her coat, welcome to your latest headache: trying to keep the kids safe in the bitter cold.

    Do you know how long kids can safely stay outside in the cold? Do you know what they should be wearing? You might be surprised! Here's an easy guide to help keep your family safe:

    What Kids Should Wear

    Think this is common sense? Maybe if you've been living in a colder climate your whole life, but when the temperatures drop to unusually low temperatures in places that rarely see cold, it can be hard to figure out what's best. Do kids really need snow boots if there's no snow on the ground? What kind of coat is best? Here's what the Center for Disease Control suggests for your kids:

    a hat a scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth sleeves that are snug at the wrist mittens (they are warmer than gloves) water-resistant coat and shoes several layers of loose-fitting clothing

    Opt for fabrics that are light enough for kids to move around but will hold in the heat.

    Warning Signs Your Kid Is Too Cold

    Sometimes kids seem like they're resistant too cold, but even when they say they're just fine, there are some tell-tale signs that it's time to get inside:

    Shivering -- This is a dead giveaway that the body is losing heat.
    Redness/numbness of exposed skin -- This is the number one sign of frostnip, which is a milder form of frostbite. Kids should get inside immediately and slowly be warmed up. Cold hands and feet can be put in warm (but not hot!) water.
    Dizziness or weakness -- Both signs that hypothermia might be setting in, it's time to get the kids indoors! If they experience confusion, slurred speech, or drowsiness, this may be a sign of hypothermia and is definitely worth a call to the doctor.
    Struggling to catch their breath -- Cold air doesn't just affect the extremities, it can affect the lungs too.

    If the skin is gray or waxy or feels hard to the touch, this may be a sign of frostbite. In that case, call your doctor!

    When to Keep Kids Inside

    When everyone has cabin fever, it's tempting to send the kids out to play, but sometimes it's just too cold to be outside for more than a few minutes. Check the National Weather Service to see if there's a wind child advisory in your area. This will tell you how long you can spend outside before frostbite will likely set in.

    Other Tips to Keep Kids Safe

    Stay hydrated -- We tend to give our kids water in the summer to make up for what they sweat out when they play, but all those winter layers will make the work up a sweat too! Make sure they're getting plenty of fluids to make up for it.

    Keep their clothes dry -- If they're playing in the snow, mittens and other garments can get soaked pretty quickly. But moisture will steal heat from the body. According to the CDC, hypothermia can set in when it's as warm as 40 degrees Fahrenheit if a person is chilled because of wetness.

    Use sunscreen -- You may not feel it, but snow reflecting light can give your kids a nasty sunburn. In fact, they're being exposed to twice the sun because they have the sun beating down on them, plus what's being reflected off the white ground.

    How do you handle the cold with the kids?

     

    Image via Matelly/Corbis


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    kailyn lowry and kidsBabies are wonderful. No doubt about it. But they have a way of turning your whole life upside down. Just ask Javi Marroquin. The Teen Mom 2 star is sleeping on the couch these days, ever since wife Kailyn Lowry kicked him out of their bed!

    Trouble in paradise? Not exactly. One of Teen Mom's most devoted couples is still hot and heavy, but they're sacrificing their time together for the sake of new baby Lincoln.

    It turns out crunchy mama Kail is co-sleeping with little Lincoln. As she explained to her Twitter followers:

    Isaac slept in his own room from day 1 home from the hospital, never had an issue. But Lincoln will not sleep in his own room... �

    — Kail Lowry-Marroquin (@KailLowry) January 4, 2014

     

    I think we've all had that kiddo who just won't sleep alone! And I don't blame Kailyn for kicking Javi to the couch one bit. I was terrified of something happening to my daughter when she slept in our bed, including the threat of my husband rolling over on her.

    But these two have so much on their plate -- between another season of their TV show, the stress of Javi being in the military and possibly shipping out one day, plus raising two kids -- that they need to be extra careful about nurturing their marriage. Putting baby first sounds like it's what you have to do when you become a parent, but there are usually work-arounds.

    More From The Stir: Kailyn Lowry Is One Mad Military Wife

    And in the case of co-sleeping, there are definitely ways to make things safe for baby without sacrificing couple time. For starters, they make co-sleepers that can be put next to the bed or actually attached to the bed. These are spots made specifically for baby to sleep, with the right firmness for the mattress, no extra blankets, and of course no possibility that a deep sleeping dad will roll on them.

    See? Kail can have her cake and sleep with her hubby too! And baby Lincoln can still snuggle with mama!

    Here's hoping these two work things out. It can be a long, hard road when someone's sleeping on the couch every night!

    What do you think of Kail and Javi's sleeping arrangements?

     

    Image via Instagram


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    David Douglas Natalie CalvoIf you've ever had a feeling that something wasn't "quite" right only to have your friends or family tell you that you're just over-sensitive, this story is for you! An abducted 7-year-old is home safe with her family and the suspected kidnapper is behind bars. It's all thanks to one quick-witted Target worker who felt something was "off" about one of her customers.

    Cops in Pittsburg, California, are crediting Roxanna Ramirez, a loss prevention specialist at the big box store, with saving little Natalie Calvo.

    The story goes that Ramirez noticed a man fidgeting in the aisles and acting strangely, so she followed him outside where he continued to set off her "strange-o-meter." On a hunch, she wrote down his license plate number. Turns out the hunch was right!

    Later her girlfriends shared details of an Amber Alert, and the guy in question sounded an awful lot like the man Ramirez had seen, and his car matched the description. The Target worker called the cops with the license plate number, they tracked down car owner David Douglas, and voila! Natalie was rescued, and Douglas has been arrested on suspicion of kidnapping.

    Can you imagine what would have happened if she hadn't followed up on that weird feeling? If she'd just written it off as being "over-sensitive" and let it slide?

    I confess sometimes I'm the one who has called people's "feelings" over-sensitive. Heck, I'd even call some of them a little nosy!

    Once someone followed my husband when he was taking our daughter to the car because she was misbehaving (inside a Target, ironically enough) and actually wrote down our license plate number. Knowing he wasn't kidnapping his own kid, I was a little annoyed. But it's stuff like this that makes me feel grateful that there are people who keep their eyes open because, hey, you never know.

    Your "over-reaction" could end up saving a life!

    Have you ever had that sense that someone was just "off"? What did you end up doing about it?

     

    Images via Antioch Police; California Highway Patrol


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Farrah Abraham's boyfriend Brian DaweIn case you haven't gotten the idea that Brian Dawe really does NOT like Farrah Abraham, get this. The Orlando DJ who outed himself as the Teen Mom star's fake boyfriend just as she was ready to appear on Couples Therapy without him has come out with another shocker.

    Not only did Dawe walk away from Farrah and open himself up to be mocked on national television, but the guy who posed as the reality star's boyfriend just to get her a gig on the VH1 show has now 'fessed up to the payday he walked away from! Are you ready for this one?

    Dawe was initially set to make $15,000 if he actually appeared on Couples Therapy! But then when he backed out, he says the producers actually offered to double it!

    Got that? He could have made $30,000, and he walked away from it!

    More From The Stir: Farrah Abraham Fires Back at 'Fake Boyfriend' Brian Dawe

    I don't know about you, but I actually respect him a little more hearing that he was able to walk away from a payday that large.

    This isn't to say he's some big winner -- he did, after all, agree to try to defraud the show and basically lied to the world at large. He's not a babe in the woods here. But when you consider what he lost when he backed out, there's something to be said for Dawe's last-minute change of heart.

    It also sends a major message toFarrah ... or it should, anyway! She's a beautiful girl, and clearly after her porn flick, there were plenty of guys lining up to, well ... you know. But Dawe just couldn't do it. He was so uncomfortable with being her boyfriend that he actually walked away from $30 large.

    Ironically, this just makes me MORE curious about how the rest of Couples Therapy will play out. Farrah may have made a mockery of the show, but her drama is only making it that much more fascinating.

    Are you watching Couples Therapy? How does Dawe's salary claim make you feel about the show?

     

    Image via Instagram


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Benito LopezThe '80s drama MacGyver taught us all that when in trouble, you've got to use the tools at hand. That's exactly what one mother of two in upstate New York did. The woman's boyfriend is accused of holding her and their two children hostage for six days straight as he drank case after case of beer.

    Cops told The Stir that Benito Lopez held his family hostage from New Year's Eve all the way through January 6, when they were finally rescued by sheriff's deputies. So how'd the deputies get there? It's all thanks to mom's smart thinking.

    According to Sullivan County Undersheriff Eric Chaboty, Lopez had taken away everyone's electronics and mom's car keys, and he'd disconnected the phone line so neither his girlfriend nor his 11- and 12-year-old kids could call out. But they did have Internet access, and Chaboty says the smart mom pretended to play games on the Internet but was actually using Facebook to send out an SOS to relatives.

    More From The Stir: Woman's Horrific Facebook 'Selfie' May Have Saved Her Life

    Hey, sometimes you do what you have to do! Facebook may get a bad rap for the amount of time people spend oversharing their every waking moment on the site, but sometimes it's the very best way to get in contact with people. In this case, it was the ONLY way. And fortunately, Lopez' girlfriend figured out how to make it work.

    Maybe this is just a part of getting older, but the helplessness of a lot of folks in the younger generation tends to frustrate me to no end. Many of the teenagers and young adults I encounter get flummoxed easily and throw up their hands when the going gets tough.

    But when the going gets tough, you don't give up. You find another way. You look at all the resources you have and you find one that works.

    Like turning to Facebook when your car keys have been stolen, your phone disconnected, and a crazy drunk man is holding you hostage.

    The girlfriend's relatives reached out to the probation department where they were already familiar with Lopez. He's on probation for a felony DWI conviction. Probation naturally sent in cops who found Lopez unarmed but Chaboty said they discovered 15 empty cases of beer, which the father had allegedly been drinking during the entire hostage situation. They arrested him, and charged him with three counts of unlawful imprisonment and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

    The family is safe, but I can only imagine how much worse this would have been. I happen to know they live in an extremely rural area where neighbors don't always know what's going on next door because houses are spread far apart. The fact that the Lopez' kids school had been cancelled several days in a row because of bad weather certainly didn't help -- there was no one missing them!

    In fact, many of the fallbacks you'd think would end a situation like this simply weren't there because of the timing and the location of the Lopez house. His girlfriend really had to think on her toes to find a way to help herself and her kids.

    And thank goodness she did. 

    What do you think you would have done in this situation?

     

    Image via Sullivan County Sheriff's Office


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    school busA tragedy out of New Jersey is striking at the heart of many parents' fears about sending their kids off to school. The mother of a 6-year-old watched this week as her little boy was hit by his own school bus. Little Edmond Bock was running to catch the bus, and somehow he ended up being hit and killed, right outside his own home.

    The driver was a substitute, but he had 25 years experience. So how does something like this happen?

    It shouldn't. Not with an experienced driver. Not with a mom standing right there.

    And yet it has and it does, and that's what terrifies me as a mom.

    Believe it or not, I didn't have that many fears about sending my kid to school. She was ready to go, and I wasn't about to hold her back. But from the time she started kindergarten to now, some four years later, I still get a little ache in my belly when the school bus comes chugging around the corner.

    I know it's not really reasonable. We have a fantastic bus driver who follows all the safety rules, and I've tried to drill those same rules into my daughter's head.

    But it's there.

    Maybe it's because when I was a kid, I remember our school bus hitting my friend's dog? Remember the horrifying noise? It was over in an instant for that poor pup.

    Maybe it's because I have been inside a school bus when a truck collided with the bus (I was sitting in the back seat, as a matter of fact, and we were rear-ended)? I know that buses are built like tanks. What happens on the outside barely affects those on the inside.

    The fact is, a bus is SO big and kids are SO little that the danger is inevitable, and accidents do happen.

    But the best way to prevent them is to TALK to your kids! If you haven't talked about bus safety with your kids lately, here are some tips to cover, courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

    When the bus approaches, stand at least three giant steps (six feet) away from the curb, and line up away from the street. Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it's okay before stepping onto the bus. If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road to a point at least five giant steps (10 feet) ahead of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus driver can see you, and you can see the bus driver. Use the handrails to avoids falls. When exiting the bus, be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags with straps don't get caught in the handrails or doors. Never walk behind the bus. Walk at least three giant steps away from the side of the bus. If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up because the driver may not be able to see you.

    Our hearts go out to the Bock family right now.

    What do you do to keep your kids safe when it comes to the bus?

     

    Image via bsabarnowl/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Kate Middleton Prince WilliamDo you know what today is? Quick check of the calendar will reveal it's January 9, but that's not all! Today is Kate Middleton's birthday! Yes, the Duchess of Cambridge, mum to the future king, turns 32 years old today!

    And with the big day in mind, we figured it's high time we find out just why it is we can't get enough Kate! So here it is, why we love Kate Middleton ... let us count the ways. All 32 of them!

    1. She isn't afraid to break with tradition to be a good mom.

    2. She hasn't forgotten where she came from -- or who is important in her life!

    3. Her outfit repeats make us feel like shopping in our closets too!

    4. She takes time out of her busy schedule to hang out with sick children and show them a good time.

    5. She can rock a hat like nobody's business.

    More From The Stir: Kate Middleton Is One Tough Duchess to Find a Gift For (VIDEO)

    6. She loves her family ... and not just the royal one!

    7. The Duchess doesn't speak in public very often, but she makes sure her public appearances really count -- like her first solo speech to promote Children's Hospice Week.

    8. She's comfortable having her husband be friends with her ex. That takes a lot of guts ... and a lot of class!

    9. From the details of the renovation job that Kate did at New Kensington Palace, we know she puts real value on keeping the old alive even as she modernizes.

    10. She isn't just nice in front of the cameras. Staff at the hospital where Kate gave birth reported being treated like royalty themselves. And here we would excuse a woman in labor for being a little cranky!

    11. Being a military wife is no easy job, but Kate always supported Prince William's job.

    12. She knows when to say no. Thank GOODNESS she put a stop to that plan to film her birth. Yikes!

    13. She's nice to her in-laws. Not always easy!

    14. Showing affection may not be "done" when you're royalty, but Kate has no problem throwing her arms around Wills on occasion, and she looks absolutely delighted when she's with her son.

    15. Her "mummy tummy" shortly after giving birth made millions of moms feel better!

    16. She watches Downton Abbey too!

    17. Having a mother-in-law as iconic as Princess Diana can't be easy, but Kate always has something nice to say about her husband's late mom.

    18. Speaking of moms, Kate has proven herself a great one. Nothing like a mom who will turn a royal tour on its head to make sure she can spend time with her little one.

    19. But don't worry, this uber mom has no problem sharing the love with Dad. Kate says her little guy will follow in dad's footsteps. Aww! Nice to see two parents working together.

    20. Gray hair on Kate just makes her more relatable.

    22. She's not above cooking for her family. She even took recent cooking classes!

    23. Even her dates nights are for good causes.

    24. She buys clothes we can actually afford!

    25. She's fiercely protective of her son's privacy.

    26. Kate is a fan of the spray tan, so we hear. Let's hear it for a lady who keeps her health in mind!

    27. She's just so gracious! When a random person gifted her with a onesie, Kate didn't say, "I have plenty," she actually made small talk about how it was a perfect fit for Prince George.

    28. Her accent. Is. Divine.

    29. She insists people call her Kate --  no pushing people to go all formal and call her Catherine!

    30. She's not afraid to take fashion risks. Have you seen the wild maternity dress she wore shortly before giving birth?

    31. She's got a wild streak! The princess is taking ... flying lessons!

    32. Her stunning hairstyles inspire us to try to do something with our own mops!

    So how about YOU? Why do YOU love Kate Middleton?

     

    Image via Splash News


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