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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.

    imaginary friendDoes your child have an imaginary friend? Don't be ashamed to admit it -- nearly half of kids do, and scientists long ago decided that it might actually be good for our kids in the long run. But if you're a little freaked out by it, well, you're not alone.

    It's not always clear whether kids are making up imaginary friends because they're so creative or if there's some spooky supernatural stuff going on in their house. Don't believe in ghosts? Maybe this will change your mind ... parents have confessed some of the creepiest things kids have said about their imaginary friends, and some of it is bound to keep you up at night!

    1. My son, from the age of 3, always tells me about the "creeper man" who lives in my mom and dad's bedroom. He brings it up after he visits them. I made the mistake once of asking what he looks like. My son said, "Oh, he doesn't have a face."

    2. "Mr. Gordy said there's money in the garden." And there was.

    3. My youngest son was 4 years old when he had an "imaginary friend" named Sissy. He would tell me that she could only play at night time, which was why he was always playing in his room at night. He said that she would wake him up to play. He also told me that she told him her daddy had choked her and that was the reason that only he could see her. I know that when I would hear him up playing at night and I would go into his room, I would get goosebumps all over my body and the hair on my arms and back of my neck would stand up. It got to the point that I started making him sleep in my bed with me because she started scaring him rather than playing with him.

    4. Once my son asked his imaginary friend, "Can you please make me some grits and eggs too?" which is really creepy because my grandma made that right before she passed. So I asked who he was talking to. He said, "Grandma Julie" -- freaked me out!

    5. [My son said] that Peter doesn't like me. And if I ever say that my son can't play with him again, Peter said he'll hurt me. He told me Peter died in a fire in his truck and that Peter said fire is "real pretty, and I should be in it."

    6. When my daughter was 3, she had an imaginary friend named Kelly who lived in her closet. Kelly sat in a little rocking chair while she slept, played with her, etc., typical imaginary friend s--t. Anyway, fast forward two years later, the wife and I are watching the new Amityville (the one with Ryan Reynolds), and our daughter walks out right when dead girl goes all black-eyed. Far from being disturbed, she said, "That looks like Kelly." "Kelly who?" we say. "You know, the dead girl that lived in my closet."

    7. My little brother's imaginary friend, Roger, lived under our coffee table. Roger had a wife and nine kids. Roger and his family lived peacefully alongside us for three years. One day, my little brother announced that Roger wouldn't be around anymore, since he shot and killed him and his whole family. I don't know if he remembers any of this, but his genuine lack of remorse was very disturbing.

    8. When my brother was little, he acted like he had angels talking to him every second. One day my mom overheard him say, "I can't kill him! He's my only dad!"

    More From The Stir: These Creepy Comments From Children Will Give You Chills

    9. [My daughter] once woke me up around 3 a.m. to show me a scratch on her arm. She was about 3. When I asked what happened, she said the crazy kitty did it. We did not have a cat! I spent hours searching closets to make sure a stray or something hadn't gotten in.

    10. When I was little, I told my dad, "My friend said her daddy tied her up in the basement and hit her and hit her until she died, and now she's here! Her daddy is here too, but he doesn't like playing with her as much as I do." I found out several years later that a little girl had been murdered by her father, who then hung himself in the attic.

    11. My son has insisted he had a sister named Rosie since he was about 2. He said she was as old as him. I asked him to tell me more about Rosie, and he said, "She's my sister but she didn't come with me." It freaks me out because I had a miscarriage three months before I got pregnant with him.

    12. [My child said her imaginary friend] died. She was struck by lightning and bled to death on the living room floor.

    13. [My child] had two that would always show up together, "S" and "C". C stopped coming around for a week or two, so I asked where C was. "Oh, he died. He went into the woods with S and only S came back out."

    14. When my mom was younger, she had an imaginary friend named Shaggy. When she was finished with Shaggy, she "chopped him up and put him in the fridge."

    15. My daughter used to tell me about a man who came into her room every night and put the sign of the cross on her forehead. I thought it was just a dream. Then my mother-in-law sent over some family photos. My daughter looked right at the picture of my husband's father (who has been dead for 16 years) and said, "That's the man who comes into my room at night!" My husband later told me his father would always do the sign of the cross on his forehead when he was young.

    Does your child have an imaginary friend? What's the creepiest thing they've ever said about them?


    Image via Maciej Chojnacki/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Jennifer LawrencePoor Jennifer Lawrence. It's starting to seem like the American Hustle star is just one of those women who should not put on a dress ... ever. Thought it was bad last year when JLaw fell on her way to the Oscars stage? The actress had another epic fail at this year's Academy Awards, but she didn't even make it inside the Dolby Theater before it happened!

    Heck, Lawrence hadn't even gotten the chance to walk down the red carpet before she had her most memorable disaster of the night. Dressed in red Dior, the best supporting actress nominee was getting out of her limo when ... bam!

    More from The Stir: Oscars 2014: Dresses That Made Us Swoon & Shudder (PHOTOS)

    Down she went, and she almost took somebody else with her. Here, watch:

    Somebody! Get this girl a pantsuit. Or maybe a pair of flats?

    At least she's a good sport about it, which is why we all love her, isn't it? Because she can and does laugh off every silly thing? She's so go-with-the-flow that it's hard not to cheer for her, especially when she's down.

    Oh, but she wasn't done after the fall. She didn't pick up the award (that went to first-timer Lupita Nyong'o), but Lawrence further managed to charm us when she showed up on stage later to present the best actor award, poking fun at herself by asking someone off screen:

    Why are you laughing? What, is this funny? I'm still watching you!

    We could all use a few more people in our lives who can laugh at themselves, don't you think? But it still wouldn't hurt for her to invest in a few more pairs of pants ...

    More From Our Partners: Jennifer Lawrence Goes Without Underwear at Oscars After Party

    What did you think of JLaw's SECOND Oscars fall?


    Image via Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Ellen DeGeneresThe Academy Awards might have played it safe by inviting Ellen DeGeneres back to host the show this year, but after Seth MacFarlane managed to offend just about everyone in 2013, who can blame them? By reputation alone, Ellen promised us an Oscars show that would be hilarious but a tad bit more wholesome than the previous year, and she delivered exactly that ... along with three pizzas to the biggest stars in the first few rows of the crowd. 

    DeGeneres made her mark with a series of stunts -- from the pizza she had delivered to the star-packed selfie she tweeted in a bid to get the most retweets ever, but she had a fair share of regular old jokes in there too. Here are some of the best ... and the absolute worst.

    1. I’m not saying movies are the most important thing in the world because we all know the most important thing in the world is youth. But really, we know that the most important thing in life is love and friendship and family. And if people don’t have those things, they usually get into show business. We are all one big frightened family.

    More From The Stir: Jennifer Lawrence's Epic Oscars Moment Was a Real Downer (VIDEO)

    2. Regarding the Oscars themselves: Who are we kidding, it's The Hunger Games. There's cameras everywhere, you're starving, and Jennifer Lawrence won last year.

    3. To Jonah Hill (referencing his prosthetic penis in Wolf of Wall Street): I honestly have to say, you showed us something in that film that I haven't seen for a very long time. Get it?

    4. Possibility #1: 12 Years a Slave wins best picture. Possibility #2: You're all racists. And now, welcome our first white presenter, Anne Hathaway.

    5. To Jennifer Lawrence about her infamous fall: If you win tonight, I think we should bring you the Oscar.

    And how about the worst joke of the night? Ellen got that one too ... directed at Judy Garland's daughter, who was in the crowd with her siblings for a tribute to their mom and The Wizard of Oz (sung by P!nk in one of the night's most stunning dresses):

    I have to say one of the most amazing Liza Minnelli impersonators is here tonight. Good job, sir.

    At most it got a few groans, and Liza did NOT look too pleased. Ellen didn't get much love for the joke on Twitter either, where otherwise she seemed to be garnering a lot of favor for her second turn as Oscars host.

    What did you think of Ellen's hosting?


    Image via Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Elise DeboutezSeeing your ex get full custody of your child might be one of the toughest things a mom could face. But there's a right way to respond to such an obstacle ... and then there's hiring two guys to kidnap your daughter. Any guesses which route a Missouri mom facing a host of criminal charges is accused of taking?

    Cops say Elise Deboutez met two men at a party and offered them her car if they'd kidnap her 1-year-old back from her father, who'd been awarded emergency temporary custody of the little girl two months prior. What happened next is downright terrifying.

    The little girl's dad, Christopher “Chad” Hamilton, told police he was home with his daughter when two men broke into his home. Hiding in a bedroom with his little girl with the door shut, Hamilton told police he heard two shots go off in the house! Ron N. King, 21, and Tayvon D. Smith, 22, were later arrested, and King allegedly admitted to police that Smith fired off the shots and that he also tried to fire into the bedroom where the dad and girl were hiding but his weapon malfunctioned.

    I hate to play the "shoulda, coulda, woulda" game here, but it's not hard to imagine what could have happened. Two guys firing at random into a bedroom where two people are hiding? Someone could easily have been hurt ... or worse.

    And this somehow seemed like a good way to get a kid back? By putting her in mortal danger?

    Come on!

    Clearly an attempted kidnapping is never the way to regain custody of child, but when you see moms or dads who grab the kids themselves because they're just so desperate to see their children, at least a little bit of your heart is with them. You get that they're making bad choices but it's for the right reasons.

    This? This was just a plain bad choice. You don't put your child's life in someone else's hands, least of all two guys you just met who are willing to commit a felony in exchange for your old Audi!

    Think about it ... would you let someone like that around your kid, period? What kind of value could they possibly put on your child's life?

    Deboutez is now facing seven felony charges including single counts of attempted child kidnapping and burglary, two counts of first-degree assault and three counts of armed criminal action.

    If she's guilty, what should the punishment be?


    Images via Jasper County Sheriff

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    sippy cupSometimes it feels like moms just can't win for losing. Here we have all made the big leap to BPA-free plastics to keep our kiddos safe, and now there's a huge expose out that says maybe BPA wasn't the worst thing hiding in our baby bottles and sippy cups!

    Unless you've been living under a rock for the past decade, by now you probably know that the commercial chemical BPA, or bisphenol-A, is a toxic nasty that could interrupt the endocrine system and cause all sorts of problems for our children. So what's a mom to do? Just buy BPA-free plastic bottles and sippy cups, right?

    Wellllll, it turns out that BPA-free might not be so safe either! An expose from Mother Jones magazine is making waves this week for uncovering a whole lot of scary stuff about toxins that are hiding in the BPA-free plastics moms have been buying by the boatload ... thinking we're doing right by our kids!

    The expose cites at least one scientific study that found "some BPA-free products actually released synthetic estrogens that were more potent than BPA," and even shares the results of lab testing on BPA-free sippy cups. A quarter of the tested cups, the kinds purchased at major retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart, tested positive for what they call "estrogenic activity."

    Sounds scary, doesn't it?

    But what exactly does all this mean for moms in layman's terms? SHOULD we be getting worked up about this?

    In a nutshell, yes. According to the Mother Jones report, and a plastics study from the University of Texas-Austin recently published in the NIH journal Environmental Health Perspectives, "almost all" plastics that were tested leached synthetic estrogens, including the BPA-free products out on the market.

    Is this any worse than BPA itself?

    Not worse, necessarily, but not better either! The primary reason moms -- and many companies -- have moved away from BPA is the feared risks to the endocrine system. The National Toxicology Program has expressed “some concern" for effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children exposed to BPA.

    So if BPA-free products are truly leaching chemicals that are just as risky, then it stands to reason our kids are STILL at risk, despite moms' best efforts.

    Where is this stuff hiding?

    The short answer is in "most" BPA-free plastic, at least according to the study out of the University of Texas-Austin. More specifically, according to the researchers' tests:

    70 percent of HDPE plastic (a hard plastic use to make baby bottles, milk jugs, ice cube trays, etc. -- the acronym for the type of plastic can typically be found on the bottom of the container) tested positive for synthetic estrogens. 75 percent of PET or PETE plastic (a more pliable plastic used to make water and soda bottles) tested positive for synthetic estrogens. 68 percent of PP plastic (a heat-resistant plastic used to make baby bottles, sippy cups, and reusable food storage containers) tested positive for synthetic estrogens. 55 percent of PS plastic (a hard plastic used for making dishes, drinking glasses and food packaging) tested positive for synthetic estrogens. 91 percent of PLA plastics (a plastic used to make disposable forks and spoons, yogurt cups, and takeout containers) tested positive for synthetic estrogens. Other plastics are out there but have not yet been tested.

    How can we protect our kids?

    You may not be able to move away from all plastics because they are ubiquitous on the market, but where possible, scientists suggest moving to wood, glass, and/or stainless steel bottles, storage containers, drinking cups, utensils, plates, etc. If you must use plastic, don't heat food or drink in the plastic containers as heat can increase the leaching of the chemicals into the food. Moms can also steer clear of pre-packaged foods by buying fresher ingredients.

    Of course, this isn't a perfect answer. We moms are really at the mercy of the corporations and the laws that protect them. We didn't know BPA was risky until after we'd been using products laden with it for years. Now it seems we're in the same boat with BPA-free products, products we chose because we THOUGHT we were being good parents and protecting our kids.

    Have you been buying BPA-free plastics? How does this news affect your family?


    Image via ramsey everydaypants/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    father and sonConfession: I'm a sucker for a good fundraiser. Spin me a sob story, and I'm all, "Who gets the check?" But even a soft touch like me has no truck with the latest fundraising trend: parents trying to get good-hearted folks to donate money ... so they can stay home with their kids.

    Sounds too crazy to be true? Oh, it's true all right. In fact dad blogger Adam Dolgin currently has a GoFundMe fundraiser online, begging people to cough up $50,000 so he can become a stay-at-home dad to his two kids.

    According to Dolgin, the dad behind the blog Fodder4Fathers

    I'd like to leave the corporate world behind for a year to take on the role of stay-at-home parent with my kids and prove once and for all that anything moms can do DADS can do equally-one year to chronicle my life doing the hardest, most rewarding job in the world and doing it well. But I'm just not in a position to do this financially, so I could really use your support.

    Well, golly gee, when you put it that way, buddy ... I still don't want to donate.

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

    See, I'm a parent who works full-time. I have a spouse who works full-time. Either one of us would love to be home full-time with our daughter, but financially it's simply not to be, and we knew this going into parenthood. I was able to cut back to part-time after her birth and remain that way until just a few months before she started kindergarten.

    And while I know our choices are not right for every family, I also know that we put ourselves in this position because we thought it would be doable (and it is!).

    Staying home with my daughter, as attractive as it might sound, is not required. If it were, quite frankly, we would never have had a child because we knew going into parenthood that we couldn't swing a full-time stay-at-home parent.

    This is the trouble with fundraising to be a stay-at-home parent.

    It's not an emergency situation. It's not something that you couldn't save up for (or plan for!).

    We are not talking about a family suddenly up to their ears in medical bills because of a child's cancer diagnosis or a stay-at-home parent suddenly left with a bunch of kids and no money because of her husband's untimely passing.

    We're talking about a situation you put yourself into, and one that -- let's be honest -- works out fine for hundreds of thousands of people every day.

    So why should we pay for people like Adam Dolgin to be stay-at-home parents? Just because they "want" to be at home? Sorry, buddy, but most parents I know "want" to be home. In fact, according to one Pew Study, only 16 percent of adults say the ideal situation for a young child is to have a mother who works full-time. The Pew Study also found that 56 percent of working moms and 50 percent of working dads say they find it very or somewhat difficult to balance work and family.

    The reason at least one of those parents isn't at home is because it's just not feasible. The needs outweigh the wants.

    Those families of kids with cancer or that single mom who just lost the only breadwinner, on the other hand? Their requests aren't about want ... they're about need. And when you're crowding out their fundraisers with something this silly, well, you're taking money away from them! Money that they truly need.

    And all to prove, what, exactly? That while there are hundreds of thousands of parents who make true sacrifices to be stay-at-home parents and there are hundreds of thousands of parents who work despite wishing to stay home, you can just take the easy way out?

    Sorry, folks, but if you want to be stay-at-home parents, here's an idea: figure out how to save the money and do it. If you can't save the money, then you should probably stick to working like 70.6 percent of America's moms and 93.5 percent of the country's fathers.

    Would you donate to help a parent stay home with their kid? What might make you change your mind?


    Image via kwanie/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Chelsea HouskaHere we go again. Adam Lind has proven himself to be one of the biggest jerks on reality television over and over and over again. And now that the ex-boyfriend of Teen Mom 2 star Chelsea Houska has a second child in the world, he hasn't changed a bit!

    The Stir has gotten hold of an exclusive clip from tonight's Teen Mom 2 episode (airing on MTV at 10 p.m. ET), and once again it's clear Chelsea is better off putting Adam as far in her past as possible. But this time Adam's antics have gone too far -- he's not just playing games with Chelsea's head; he's actually using their 4-year-old as a pawn.

    Take a look:

    MTV Shows


    Um, did Adam really just tell a child's mom one thing about her whereabouts and then take her somewhere else? He may be her father, but as her primary custodial parent, Chelsea has every right to know exactly where her toddler is at all times.

    More From The Stir: Leah Calvert Thinks Stepmoms Are Equal to 'Real' Moms

    The very fact that Adam can't simply be honest about where his 4-year-old is (and is keeping her up until midnight!) is proof enough that he's not fit to take custody of Aubree. You have to put the child first, not your selfish and immature games!

    It doesn't exactly bode well that his mom is covering for him either. Up to this point, Chelsea seemed to get along with them and they seemed to be decent grandparents (although nothing like Papa Randy, natch!). She really needs them to be in her corner and help her with Adam, not support their idiot son being, well, an idiot!

    Should Chelsea change how she lets Adam spend time with Aubree after this or is she overreacting?


    Image via MTV

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    school desksAll right parents, who thinks they need to take parenting classes? Wait, scratch that. Better question: who has free time to go take parenting classes? Four parenting classes to be exact? Parents in one part of the US might be forced to find the time ... or their kids will fail the sixth grade!

    Yup, that's right, a bill on the floor of the legislature in one of the country's largest states threatens to hold children back in school if their parents don't take four state-mandated parenting classes.

    As if life isn't hard enough for parents ... and kids?

    The bill sponsored by New York State Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., an evangelical minister, would require parents to take courses on topics such as sexual orientation, bullying and suicide, and physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. At heart, none of that sounds terrible. The more education parents have about these topics, the better off they -- and their kids -- will be.

    But, and this is a BIG but, good parents are already going to be trying to brush up on that, aren't they? I know I certainly pay attention to all the research on those topics, and although I don't have time -- as a working mom -- to actually sign up for a parenting class (forget four of 'em!), I know that if something came up with my kid, I would reach out for help to the proper resources.

    That's what involved, caring parents do. We don't need a law to make us care about our kids. All this would do is give us another headache to take care of (the bill requires employers give one day off for these classes -- but fat chance that would cover all the time needed).

    But far worse than that is what it would do to all the kids out there who are already struggling with crappy parents. These are the people this law is likely aimed at ... and the types of people who likely would shirk their duty, law or no law. And then what? Their kids would be held back in the sixth grade, banned from seventh grade?

    Because it isn't hard enough for them at home? Now the school has to punish them for being born to people who don't care enough to make their children their priority?

    Way to go, lawmakers! Pass this bill into law, and you're telling kids who are already dealing with crappy home lives that they can never get past their parents' mistakes to make something of themselves. Heck, you'll be stuck in sixth grade forever because your Mom is a crack head who can't rouse herself from the couch long enough to attend a parenting class, so you might as well just drop out of school now!

    Think I'm overreacting?

    Sadly, I'm not. Kids with neglectful parents are already at risk for dropping out of school and much more hardship in life.

    Lawmakers should be bending over backward to make school life easier on these kids, not harder! Their best chances at success come, after all, from schools that give them what they're not getting at home -- encouragement, compassion, confidence.

    Here's hoping this bill fails ... and that failure sends a message to lawmakers across the country that we need to STOP punishing kids for having crappy parents!

    What do you think of this proposal? Should the state have a say in whether parents take classes?


    Image via dcjohn/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Glee TrioFor a show about high schoolers, there has been a lot of baby business on Glee over the years -- from pregnant cheerleader Quinn Fabray to that Rachel Berry pregnancy scare to Sue Sylvester's bizarre insemination by Michael Bolton. And now there's another mother to add to the mix.

    Tonight's episode was dubbed Trio, and now we know why ... because baby is about to make three! Needless to say there's a SPOILER alert ahead, y'all! So who's the lucky mom ... and dad?

    Mr. Schue and Miss Pillsbury are having a baby! Mark it on the calendar; I think this might just be the first pregnancy in Glee history to make sense AND be completely age appropriate! Well, OK, Sue's was the latter, but certainly not the former ...

    To be honest, Mr. Schuester has seemed like a dad from the time the show started, even though he didn't have kids of his own. He's been like the father figure for the New Directions. Now that a whole new class is set to graduate -- Tina, Sam, Blaine, and Artie are all out of McKinley this spring -- it's like "his" kids are growing up and leaving the nest.

    More From The Stir:Rachel Berry's Big Break Hits a Bigger Snag

    But at 37 (did they ever mention his age before?) he's still got plenty of time to have some of his own, and now he's got the perfect partner to do it with. 

    And do it, he did. We all were treated to a bit of TMI in the episode opener when Becky Jackson walked in on the Schuesters "trying" in the faculty bathroom and they had to 'fess up to Sue why they couldn't wait until they got home (gotta hit that ovulation window, you know).

    Of course the couple had to share airtime with Rachel and Santana still warring in New York (and trying to get Starchild all mixed up in their battle royale), and Tina constantly bursting into tears at any mention of graduation, but nobody's going to steal Emma's thunder this time! She's having his baby! If only Cory was around to sing it for them ... 

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    Where you surprised the Schuesters were trying? What do you think it will be -- boy or girl?


    Image via Adam Rose/FOX

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Leah CalvertIt was another tearjerker kind of episode of Teen Mom 2 this week, but don't worry. They were the good kind of tears. Leah Calvert finally convinced Corey Simms to let baby Ali go to school to get the head start that she needs because of her health issues.

    And tonight we got to see what happens when a mother and father who are both divorced and remarried struggle with sending their special needs toddler off to school and another kid who is acting out and not ready for school.

    They come together like nobody's business.

    At least, that's what Leah and Corey, along with their respective spouses Jeremy and Miranda, did for baby Ali on this week's episode. We got to see all four of her parents in one room, talking cordially and making plans for her future ... not once, but twice!

    How mature! How inspiring!

    Some 50 percent of couples in America may end up divorced, but if all of them could even do half of what Leah and Corey do for their kids, there would be a LOT more happy, well-adjusted kids in America. Divorce isn't what hurts kids; it's bitter, angry, fighting parents!

    Ali, fortunately, has the exact opposite. She may have a rare degenerative form of muscular dystrophy, and she may be behind on her milestones, but the love and support she has makes her one incredibly lucky little girl ... and that's what brought all the tears tonight.

    At least, that's where the tears for Teen Mom viewers came from.

    Kailyn Lowry's tears, on the other hand, came from Javi's pain in the butt family -- specifically those members who'd been invited to join her wedding party but couldn't manage to make it to any planning events. Poor girl is fighting a custody battle with her ex, pregnant, AND planning a wedding ... and she can't even manage to get all her bridesmaids in the same room. Then, to top it all off, after ignoring Kail's texts and questions, they had the audacity to text Javi complaining about Kail and her maid of honor.

    More From The Stir: Jenelle's Abortion Comes Back to Haunt Her

    Chelsea had it a little rough on this episode too, with Adam pulling a fast one behind her back with little Aubree. The tot was supposed to stay at Adam's parents' house overnight, but instead went to Adam's house for a sleepover with him, his girlfriend Taylor, and new baby Paislee. When Chelsea found out about it on Facebook, Adam lied to her.

    Turns out two kids aren't enough to turn him into a responsible dad. The good news is Aubree seems to love her little sister (seriously the scenes of her holding the baby rank in the top 5 cutest ever moments on this show), and she didn't even bring her up to her mom. The 4-year-old's dad might be a jerk, but she seems to be pretty OK with everything in life right now.

    As for Jenelle, the episode was fairly drama free for a change. She went to court, only to find out things had been postponed, and her husband Courtland was going to get out on time served ... which is bad news for Jenelle, who thinks that if Courtland manages to get her in a car, he'd kidnap her.

    Yes, she really said that. And that's fairly drama free for Jenelle.

    What did you think of the Calvert/Simms family pow-wow? Could you sit down with your ex and his new wife like that?


    Image via MTV


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    St. Patrick's Day headbandI'm not sure what it is about St. Patrick's Day, but I find it really hard to resist dressing my kiddo up for the holiday. It's a mom's prerogative to make sure her kid is pinch-proof, right? And don't even get me started on all the things you can do with a little girl's hair on St. Patrick's Day. Green hair bows and shamrock headbands and rainbow hair do-dads ... oh my!

    The holiday is coming up on us fast, but if you don't already have a plan for your kiddo's hair, well, the luck o' the Irish is with you! We asked some of the craftiest bloggers on the web to share their cool St. Paddy's day hair creations!

    Best part? You can make these WITH your kids!

    Many of the crafts require adult supervision (one involves an open flame ... but it's not as scary as it sounds!), but there is plenty kids can do to make their St. Patrick's Day rock!

    My personal favorite may be #4, how about you?


    Image via Dukes and Duchesses

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Karla Villegas-GarzonIf the puzzling disappearance of a New Jersey mom doesn't have mothers across the country clutching their babies, I don't know what will. Karla Villagra-Garzon was last seen more than a week ago, on the night of February 24. The missing mom was leaving her house at the odd hour of 10:30 p.m. to pick up medicine for her 2-year-old daughter who had the flu.

    The drugstore was just blocks from her home in Elizabeth, New Jersey, but Karla never made it home that night. In fact, she never even made it to the store -- at least not from the look of surveillance footage from Walgreen's. So what happened to her?

    The mom in me says something awful.

    Look, I understand that people run off on their families. It happens with surprising -- and depressing -- frequency. And as odd as it sounds, I'd love for that to be what happened here. It would mean that Karla Villagra-Garzon is all right, and this little girl could eventually get her mom back.

    But I'm a mom. The sick 2-year-old whose mother is gone is tearing at my heart as is a husband who -- by all accounts -- is distraught and cooperating with police.

    Who would leave a sick 2-year-old, say you're going to get medicine, and never come back ... on purpose? Even if the child's sickness was overwhelming you, you'd at least have it in your heart to get them the medicine they need, right? Because, ahem, sick 2-year-old!!

    Karla is described as being 5 feet tall and weighing 120 pounds with long black hair and brown eyes. Police say she was last seen wearing a brown jacket, blue jeans, and black rain boots. Police are asking anyone with any information about her to call Detective Louchan Holmes at 908-558-2032 or the Elizabeth Police Communications Center at 908-558-2111.

    Let's spread this woman's photo and vital statistics and get her home to her little girl.

    Just look at the facts known here: can you imagine the type of mom who would run out at 10:30 at night to get a kid medicine disappearing of her own accord?


    Image via Elizabeth Police Department

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Farrah AbrahamWell, it's official. Farrah Abraham is once again a fame-hungry reality star without a show as VH1 aired the season finale of Couples Therapy this week. The Teen Mom has a new choice on her hands: will she slink back out of the spotlight or is she already looking for her next publicity stunt?

    Her last therapy session with Dr. Jenn Berman could tell us a lot about what's next for Farrah.

    Berman managed to set up a date for Farrah on the show's last episode with a guy they found on PlentyofFish.com. Although most of the men Farrah ran across on the dating site had declined to come on camera, a single dad named Ryan decided he'd do it.

    It seemed pretty clear that Ryan knew exactly who Farrah was, hinting about how he used to work at the Playboy mansion while giggling like a schoolgirl ... clearly trying to get Farrah to start talking about her sex tape. It was also pretty clear that Ryan was a giant a--hat as he went into a rant about how most guys just want to "sleep with b--ches," that poor Farrah didn't even know how to respond to.

    I thought she handled herself pretty well. She wasn't nearly as rude as she's been in the past, even leaving the date with Ryan somehow thinking he still had a chance with her (OK, so maybe he was just delusional?). But that was Dr. Jenn's biggest problem with Farrah's date. The guy was a tool, but she said Farrah was too nice to him, even warned the Teen Mom that she needs to stop bending over backward to keep other people from getting mad and actually just ... walk away sometimes.

    At the very least, she should have left the date much sooner instead of sitting through the torture of spending time with Ryan.

    Hmm. Farrah not knowing when to leave a date. Sound anything like her life in the spotlight? Teen Mom ended how long ago, and she's been desperate to find her way back onto TV instead of just walking away.

    Now that Couples Therapy is over, here's hoping she learned something ... and takes a little time to just be Sophia's mom!

    Where do you think Farrah will end up next? What Teen Mom star do you think will end up on Couples Therapy next?


    Image via VH1

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    leprechaun bookmarkIt's almost St. Patrick's Day! Are your kids ready? Mine has been drafting ideas for a bigger and betterleprechaun trap for weeks now, and there's glitter and glue as far as he eye can see. There's nothing that gets a crafty's kids creative juices flowing quite like a holiday.

    I should know -- I'm the mother of a kid who hasn't met a glue stick she couldn't use down to the nubbin. Got a kiddo who is dying to get their craft on? Good! Because we've rounded up some of the coolest St. Patrick's day crafts for your little leprechauns, created by moms who really know their stuff. From shamrocks you make from coffee filters to push pops that let them taste the rainbow, there's a project for every age group.

    More From The Stir: 6 Cute & Colorful DIY Hair Bows & Headbands for St. Patrick's Day

    I can't wait to make #4 with my daughter, how about you?


    Image via Sweet and Lovely Crafts

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Philadelphia bus laneIf you haven't seen the video of a young mother falling asleep on a Philadelphia city bus yet, prepare to get angry. Shot by a fellow bus passenger, the video shows a mom who appears to be addicted to drugs doing what police refer to as heroin nod while her young daughter tries desperately to wake her up. YouTube viewers are demanding en masse for the mother to have her child taken away from her, and the video surely makes it seem like this woman is unfit to care for her kid.

    But is the alleged drug addict mother the biggest monster on the SEPTA bus? Let's talk, for just a second, about this video.

    But first, let's watch.

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    Upsetting? Shocking. Indeed.

    My heart breaks for that little girl, and my fists shake at the people on that bus, including the person who shot the video.

    See, with Philly authorities stepping in to investigate, the video "might" help this child. But that doesn't seem to be the intention of the video at all.

    More from The Stir: Shocking 'Faces of Meth' Ad Shows the Horrors of Addiction to the Drug (PHOTO)

    In fact, according to most reports, the videographer didn't call police or CPS to share their footage. Instead this video was posted on the People of Septa Facebook page. People of Septa is not an official Facebook page maintained by city officials or the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. In fact there's virtually no information about the page's administrators, aside from a brief description: "What the El?!" The page seems to be made up primarily of posts poking fun at people, akin to the wildly popular (and extremely offensive) People of Wal-Mart Facebook page.

    From this information alone, we can deduce that the person shooting the video cared more about making fun of the mom than they did the little girl's safety.

    And what of the other passengers? At one point I thought I heard someone ask the mom if she was alright, but I couldn't be sure if they were talking to her or not -- she's too out of it to respond. There were a few folks who seemed to try to wake her up, but gave up when the attempts were unsuccessful. 

    It's hard to get involved in someone else's business; I get that. It can even be a little scary. But there's a child here! Didn't someone care more about the kid than their own fear?

    What I didn't see in this video was anyone step in in earnest to help the mom or the little girl. Here she is trying to hold her mother's head up, and she can't be more than 5 or 6. She shouldn't have that kind of responsibility, and yet no one offered assistance? No one said, hey, lady, let's get you to a hospital. No one called 911.

    In fact, Philly Department of Human Services said they didn't get any calls until AFTER the video went viral, when people recognized the mom.

    More from The Stir: Mom Gives 6-Year-Old Daughter Drug-Laced Sandwich for Lunch

    But not before? What would have happened if the video didn't catch fire? If no one saw it? This little girl could still be living this life, with a mom who is seemingly addicted to heroin, and seemingly completely unfit to parent. And that would be on the folks on that bus who did nothing, didn't even tell the driver!

    The mom may be the one facing possible criminal charges here, but in the global village responsible for raising our children, she's far from the only one falling short here.

    Put yourself on that bus. What would YOU have done?


    Image via Paul Sableman/Flickr

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Joran van der SlootThe family of Natalee Holloway has been waiting a long time to haul her suspected killer, Joran van der Sloot, into an American courtroom. And now it looks like the parents of the Alabama teen missing (and considered dead) since her high school trip to Aruba in May 2005 are going to have to wait even longer. Peru, the country that has van der Sloot locked away in a jail cell for murder, has agreed to extradite the Dutch national to the United States.

    But first they want him to actually pay for killing 21-year-old Stephany Flores in a Lima hotel room. Can you blame them?

    The Peruvian government has announced they'll send van der Sloot to American in 2038 -- after he's finished a 28-year sentence for the Flores murder. That's when he would face federal American charges of extortion and wire fraud.

    Van der Sloot allegedly took $25,000 from Natalee's mother, Beth Holloway, in 2010, with a promise to lead a Holloway family lawyer to her body. Only, as we all know, the Holloway family never got what they wanted -- closure. Natalee's body, to this day, has not been found. And despite van der Sloot still being considered the prime suspect in her disappearance and murder, he's never been forced to answer to anything he's allegedly done to the Holloway family.

    I feel for these folks; I really do. Their daughter died, and they deserve to the know the truth. They deserve a little justice, a little closure.

    This news from Peru is surely a staggering blow to people who really shouldn't have to deal with anything else! They've been through enough!

    But might I point out that the sturm and drang over the Peruvian decision to hold off on extraditing Joran van der Sloot is just so American? The Holloways can be angry, but the rest of us? We need to look at the bigger picture. It's typical of folks here in the U.S. of A. to act like our problems somehow supersede those of other people.

    What about Stephany Flores' family? Their daughter was killed too. They too deserve justice. And keeping their daughter's murderer behind bars for 20-some-odd years is certainly in their best interests. This isn't just Peru not bending to American authority; it's Peru looking out for another family, another dead girl.

    Send him over to America, and what do the Floreses get? More to the point, what do the Holloways get, exactly? An American court can do plenty, but they can't fix things for Natalee's family. They can't make Joran van der Sloot confess to murdering Natalee Holloway or come up with her body (Aruban officials have tried and tried and tried again, to no avail). And the sentence for extortion and wire fraud -- if he's guilty -- is unlikely to be any more harsh than 28 years in prison for murder.

    Again, my heart goes out to the Holloways, but sadly there seems no real way to solve their problems, and pushing Peru any further only seems like it will hurt another, already grieving family. It seems like there simply is no "good" answer here.

    What do you think of this case? Did you believe from the beginning that Joran van der Sloot was involved in Natalee's death?


    Image via Coreccion de Criminilistica Division Central de Identificaciaon Policia

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Beyonce Ban BossyIf there's a little girl in your house, no doubt at some point she's tried to stick up for herself. But what word would you use to describe her when she does it? Be honest: have you called her bossy?

    Maybe you'll be surprised to hear it, but when you plug "bossy" into a thesaurus, the words spat back at you are all negative: domineering, high-handed, domineering. Is that really what we think of our daughters just for sticking up for themselves? For having dreams? For speaking out?

    Calling girls negative names for being leaders has gone on far too long, and powerful women around the world have had enough. Celebrity women who were called "bossy" when they were kids have signed on to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's Ban Bossy Project to tell your girls that it's OK to be strong! 

    More From The Stir: These Girls Want You to Stop Calling Them the 'B-Word' (VIDEO)

    Have a daughter, niece, cousin or other little girl in your life who's been called bossy for being herself? Maybe the words of Jennifer Garner, Kate Couric, Michelle Obama, and other incredibly strong women will help her feel more secure in being ... her!

    Which of these messages do you most want to share with your daughter? Number 9 is a tough one, but so important!


    Image via Ban Bossy

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Beth HochsteinWhen Beth Hochstein was 36, she had a busy podiatry practice and two young children at home. Then one day, her finger locked up in the operating room, right in the middle of surgery. Soon the tremors started in her right hand, and they weren't going away. Within weeks, Hochstein had no choice but to go to the doctor. What she learned was the last thing she was expecting:  Parkinson's disease.

    "People think it's an old person's disease," the mother of two from Long Island, told The Stir. But it's not. You can be a mom running kids from dance class to school play practice, from music lessons to Hebrew school, and suffer from a disease that's slowly taking away your control of your own body.

    Hochstein has what's called young onset Parkinson's disease. It's the same form of the neurodegenerative brain disorder that actor Michael J. Fox has, and it affects some 1 million Americans. Of those, only about 10 percent are diagnosed before age 50. They're people like Hochstein -- young folks who never gave a thought to Parkinson's.

    In fact, Hochstein's initial fear after suffering that first finger lock-up was that she had a brain tumor. After all, that's what killed her grandmother.

    Fortunately, Parkinson's does not kill folks.

    Unfortunately, there is no cure.

    Hochstein will live with Parkinson's, and its degenerative effects on her body, for the rest of her life.

    It hasn't been easy. When she was first diagnosed, in 2007, she continued to work. But in 2010, when she had to increase the medicines she was taking to control the Parkinson's, the working mom realized she had to step away from the practice she shared with her husband. Now her entire right side is affected by the out-of-control muscles.

    There are many days when she wakes to find her ankle is locked, and she struggles to walk her daughter Sarah, now 9, down the street to catch the school bus. Hochstein now has help on mornings when her husband can't be home. Without medication, she finds it difficult to even climb stairs. Her medicine causes the jerky movements called dyskinesia (Fox suffers from those too) and she needs far more of it than she did even three or four years ago.

    But a life-changing diagnosis is not a life-destroying diagnosis. Hochstein acknowledges that Parkinson's has made life more challenging, but she also credits  the disease with what it's pushed her to do.

    Since her diagnosis, she has slowly, but surely, become an active participant in the Parkinson's cause. A dancer as a child, she turned to Dance for PD, dance classes specifically made to help those with Parkinson's after her doctor told her exercise would help her condition. She took courses to become an instructor, then found Zumba, and became an instructor for that as well.

    Today she teaches both forms of dance, and she's used both to fundraise for the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Her next project -- Dance Party for Parkinson's-- will be held on April 5 in New York City, with Zumba instructors from around the country joinging in to help her teach people to dance for the cause.

    Living with a mom who is constantly raising money for research has, in turn, created kids who are intent on doing the same. On Halloween, Hochstein's 12-year-old son Max could have spent the night gorging himself on candy. Instead, he set up a booth in front of the family's home and offered to paint monster scars -- a skill he picked up at camp -- on neighborhood kids. By the end of the night, he'd raked in $500 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

    The Hochstein kids are constantly coming up with funny ideas for charity, their mom says, and Max, a hip hop dancer, will even be dancing at the Dance Party next month.

    "It does give them a sense of not being into yourself and wanting to help other people," Hochstein said of the way Parkinson's has affected her family. "It gives them a sense of charity.

    "I think it's good for them to be able to raise money to help other people," she said. What's more, having a mom with Parkinson's is something the Hochstein kids simply take in stride, their mom explained.

    If anything, being diagnosed when Sarah was just 3, Max just 6, helped make this the norm for her kids. When the Hochsteins finally sat the kids down to explain why she would be quitting her job as a podiatrist, it didn't even faze them.

    "I think they don't see it as a disability," Hochstein explained. "They live it; to them it's their mother."


    To find out more about living and parenting with Parkinson's, visit the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

    Do you live with a chronic disease? How does it affect your kids?


    Image via Beth Hochstein

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    married couplePoor Shakira started a firestorm the other day when she confessed that she had to ask her boyfriend, Gerard Pique, for permission before shooting a sexy music video with Rihanna. What's a grown woman doing asking for permission before making decisions about her career? Well ... maybe she's just being a good girlfriend?

    Hey, someone had to say it! If there is one thing I've learned in the 13 1/2 years since my wedding, it's that marriage is a partnership. And at the risk of being labeled anti-feminist, sometimes that means giving my husband the chance to say "eh, please don't do that," before I make a decision.

    Take a week ago when I decided -- last minute -- to once again shave my head to fight children's cancer. Before I signed up, I first went to my husband and asked, "Do you mind if I shave my head for St. Baldrick's again this year?" It's my hair on the line, but I'll have to fundraise and show up the day of the event, plus someone needs to keep an eye on our daughter while I'm sitting in a chair having clippers buzzing around my head. He didn't say, "no," but if he had, I'd have respected it.

    Really, it comes down to common courtesy. He's not being "controlling;" he's having an opinion ... and as his spouse, you'd want him to respect your opinion, right? So why not respect his?

    Don't see yourself shaving your head any time soon? You're not off the hook, hon.

    If you want to stay on good terms, you might want to keep him in mind and ASK before you do any of the following:

    1. Throwing out his ratty old t-shirts. I have seen many a wife prattle on on Facebook about how she's finally gotten rid of his stash of awful tees from college. My husband has his own fair share of those holey t-shirts, but I won't touch them for one simple reason: I know I'd be annoyed if he ever dared throw out MY "I swear I'll be skinny enough for these again one day" jeans.

    2. Planning a girls night. I don't care who is going out, frankly, but it's common courtesy to check in with your significant other before setting up a night out. Who knows if he has to work late that night? Or was planning to take you out (hey, it could happen!). The point is, if he's got to plan to stay home with the kids, or find a sitter so he can do his own thing that night, he should at least get a heads up.

    More From The Stir: 16 Things Husbands Shouldn't Be Able to Do Without Your Permission

    3. Hitting up the joint account to buy something for yourself. Now, now, I don't mean you should have to check in with the hubs every time you want to go grocery shopping. But if you have a joint account, the idea is that the money will be used on things that benefit both parties. If you're thinking of splurging on something that's for you and you alone, do what you'd hope he'd do in the same situation.

    4. Planning a family vacation. My husband hates Disney World with a passion. We've gone twice, anyway, because we wanted to do something nice for our daughter, but you'd better believe I made sure he was on board first! Family vacations are for just that -- the FAMILY. All adults involved should have a say in where you go and when.

    5. Wearing his clothes. Some folks may disagree with me on this, and I'll be honest, I've grabbed one of my husband's sweatshirts from the dryer without asking his permission. But I stopped doing it after he spotted me in one and said he'd actually been planning on wearing it himself. Oops!

    6. Inviting company to the house. What if he wants to spend a nice Saturday in his PJs on the couch? Not the best time to invite your BFF and her whole family over, huh? (P.S. This goes double if it's your parents).

    7. Pulling the goalie. WHY oh WHY oh WHY do some women think it's OK to just not use birth control without telling their partner? That's one of the most low down tricks in the book, ladies, and your partner deserves better.

    8. Throwing a playdate. If I'm taking my daughter out of the house, I usually don't bother to ask. But if he's having a tough day at work, he deserves to weigh in on whether some strange kid will be sitting on our couch, talking his ear off, when he gets home.

    9. Eating the leftovers. Ever had a major craving for the rest of last night's dinner (or dessert!) only to come home and find someone ate it all? Just ask first, OK?

    10. Starting an extreme diet. Now, I'm not saying you need his permission to get healthy. But if you're going to suddenly ban all carbs from the house, it's best to make sure the other adult in the house is ready to bid bye bye to bread.

    11. Buying new sheets. Can he sleep on flannel or does he find it to be insanely irritating? Worth finding out if he has to sleep on them!

    12. Painting the walls. What if that pretty purple gives him a headache? Just saying ... it's a lot cheaper to just ask first.

    13. Hanging out with an ex. He's a jerk if he forbids it, but if he asks to go along, well ... isn't that within his rights?

    Do you ask your spouse for permission? How do you word it?


    Image via Sandra Hoever/Corbis

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    cupcakesThere's a running joke in my house that if you're standing in the rain with our daughter, she will still find some way to convince you that it's really not raining and you're not really getting wet. Somehow I have given birth to a world class arguer, but I'm not alone! A video that's going viral of a young little debater putting up a convincing argument to his mom that they should eat cupcakes for dinner has me in stitches because, finally, I have proof my kid isn't the only one who will argue about anything.

    Of course, the fact that Linda Beltran's 3-year-old -- who sounds like a little old man as he tells her, "Listen, Linda!" -- is cute as a button makes the video all the more hilarious. Just take a listen:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    When Mateo said, "Linda, honey, honey," I think I almost died! It's funny how kids will pick up on the words we use to reason with them ... and parrot them back to us in an argument, isn't it? And by funny, I mean it's hard to keep a straight face!

    My 8-year-old recently told me I was "skating on thin ice." It was all I could to do to remain serious and respond that I'd take it under advisement, but she still wasn't going to get to watch a movie when it was bedtime.

    Good for Linda for maintaining ... I don't know if I could have gotten through that whole thing without at least a snicker or too. But man, does my heart go out to her. She's got a pip in her house!

    Do you have an arguer in your house? How do you handle it?


    Image via clevercupcakes/Flickr

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