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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.

    halloween candy trick or treatingMove over razor blades in candy apples. Take a hike pins and needles in the trick or treat bag. This year's over-blown Halloween scare is all about marijuana. A report that cops in Denver, Colorado, are concerned that pot-laced candy looks an awful lot like the real thing has gone viral, and parents are in a hoopla over the fear that their kids are going to get high on all hallows' eve.

    Pardon our failure to be alarmed, but we're not buying it.

    Sure, Denver cops may be doing their due diligence, but the minute this story went national, a problem arose: parents ignored the starting point.

    Denver is, of course, in Colorado, a state in which pot is legal and pot-laced candies are pretty easy to get. This is only true of two states in the nation: Colorado and Washington, rendering this a moot point for the other 48.

    Got that? If you live in Maine, New Mexico, or just about anywhere BUT Colorado and Washington, your kid will probably get the same old pile of mini Milky Ways and toothbrushes from the crank across the street.

    More From The Stir: 9 Halloween Treats That Are So Much Better Than Candy

    As for the parents in those locales, let's face facts: if you're buying pot-laced candy, you're probably loading up for one reason and one reason only: to get high. Giving it to kids means missing out on your own opportunity to get baked. Not likely.

    Feel better? Good. Now let's talk about the real problem on Halloween: kids getting hit by cars. According to the stats, 42 percent of car crashes in which a child is hit and killed occur during prime trick or treating hours -- right between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. With excited kids running from house to house loading their bags up with loot, your child is at a much higher risk of getting hit than getting high this Halloween. So set down some ground rules, make sure everyone looks both ways before they cross the street, and have a safe Halloween.

    What's your biggest worry on Halloween night?


    Image © iStock.com/Vesnaandjic

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    woman childbirthRemember giving birth? Was it painful? Excruciatingly so? Your mind just might be playing tricks on you -- at least that's the word from a new study that claims the pain of childbirth isn't actually nearly as bad as we remember.

    Or at least it's not always that bad. 

    Researchers at Open University in Israel asked 320 laboring moms to rank their pain on a scale of 1 to 100. Then they checked back in with those same moms two days and then two months after delivery.

    Their findings? We tend to remember the absolute worst pain of labor, and that's how we sum up the whole thing. So when we're saying, "OMG, I've never hurt so bad," we're really only referring to a portion of the time we spent bringing baby into this world.

    More From The Stir: Cervical Dilation From 1-10: Are You Ready for Delivery?

    Surprisingly, the length of labor didn't seem to matter. Moms who had babies faster had the same habit of remembering only the peak labor pains as the moms who had lengthy deliveries.

    Of course, no one is saying childbirth doesn't hurt because ... DUH! But let's face it -- there are plenty of early stage moments in between contractions that are relatively painless. Comparing those times to the 10 centimeters dilated, contracting constantly, and trying to push a watermelon through a hole the size of a Clementine really doesn't make much sense, now does it?

    On the 1 to 100 scale, how bad was YOUR labor?


    Image © iStock.com/Yarinca

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    boy and dogHere we go again. The Daily Mail, publisher of such gems as "I've never liked my child" and "big headed babies more prone to cancer," has now served up a mother's confessional on why she loves her dog more than her child. Kelly Rose Bradford says he doesn't feel guilty admitting she often prefers her West Highland White terrier, Matilda, to son William.

    After all, she never has to remind the dog to pick up the clothes on the floor or do your homework, and the dog doesn't talk back. Sound familiar, Moms and Dads? I dare say every parent who has a pet has -- at one time or another -- given rise to the thought that pets are (if nothing else) easier on your blood pressure.

    It isn't the thought that's the problem or even voicing the thought. It's Bradford's decision to make said thought public in this particular manner.

    Specifically, to write an article for the entire world to see with her name at the top, and to pair it with photos of her son and the animal with whom he battles daily for affection.

    More From The Stir: 25 All-Time Favorite Mommy Confessions

    In doing so, Bradford has made her problem her son's problem. What he may have suspected before he now has proof of, and that's got to weigh heavily on a kid -- now and for a long, long time.

    Numerous studies have confirmed that when parents have a favorite child, the other kids in the family suffer. But what's interesting to note is studies have also found that thinking (or in William's case knowing) you're not the favorite child can have a devastating impact on a child, including an increased risk of substance abuse.

    Essentially, by outing herself in this way, Bradford has just put her kid at higher risk.

    And the sad thing is Bradford could have had her cake and kept her kid safe. Pseudonyms are as old as the written word, and for good reason.

    Parents who write about parenting have to walk a fine line in divulging our secrets. Essays like this certainly serve as a service to other parents who are having feelings that they can't quite define or about which they're feeling guilty. It helps them to feel less alone. It's why I've written over the years about everything from my very personal struggle with bulimia to my very personal struggle with breastfeeding. There's power in giving voice to our private problems in order to touch others. 

    The pen is, after all, mightier than the sword.

    But when we parenting writers wield our pen, we have to remember we aren't just writing about ourselves. We're writing about another human being, someone who has their own emotions about the topic at hand.

    More From The Stir: The Dog Is the Only Sibling My Only Child Needs

    If Bradford had written this essay pseudonymously, if she'd said "no" to the Daily Mail photographing her child, I don't think the world would be in as big of an uproar about this article. Sure, it would ruffle some feathers, and it would be a talking point. I can't help but balk at any mother actually saying, as Bradford does, "despite what anyone else might think, based on my love for her and the fulfillment of her needs over anyone else's, Matilda will always be first."

    But it's much easier to take a hypothetical story written about a hypothetical (or at least not identified and photographed) child as food for thought than it is to accept a mother breaking her child's heart just for some clicks on a website.

    How does your dog stack up against your child?


    Image © iStock.com/Jason Lugo

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    medicine cupsCold and flu season is upon us, and a lot of parents are turning to their medicine cabinet to help their kids cope. But a startling statistic should have you double checking that medicine cup before tell your kids to drink up. Every eight minutes, a child under the age of 6 in America experiences a medication error.

    Scarier still? The numbers from Nationwide Children's Hospital researchers apply to errors occurring outside of hospitals and doctor's offices.

    That's right: these are often parental mistakes. And while most errors didn't require medical treatment, 25 kids in the study died as a result of out-of-hospital medication errors.

    The worst offenders? Parents of kids under age 1. Twenty-five percent of these medication errors happen to babies!

    More From The Stir: Enterovirus vs. Cold vs. Allergies: How to Tell Which Your Kid Is Suffering From

    Researchers say painkillers and fever-reducers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen are the most commonly messed up meds, and the issues vary. Nearly 82 percent of errors are made with liquid dosages, while about 15 percent happen when dosing out tablets, capsules, or caplets.

    Some kids are getting too much medicine (an issue brought to light earlier this year in a review of poison control calls about overdosing kids) while others are getting the wrong medicine or even getting the same drug twice.

    In other words: most of these errors are pretty easy to fix ... if you just pay attention and read the directions.

    Have you ever given your child the wrong medication or wrong dose? What happened?


    Image © iStock.com/NoDerog

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Kate Middleton Prince WilliamThe wait is over! Kate Middleton has made her first official appearance since Clarence House announced the Duchess was expecting her second child, and yes, there's an itty bitty bit of evidence that she's pregnant. Well, there is if you look really hard for a baby bump.

    If there was ever a sign that she's past the worst of the sickness, it was the grin on her face as she stood with Prince William to welcome the President of the Republic of Singapore and his wife Mary at London's Royal Garden Hotel.

    Look at that pregnancy glow:

    Kate Middleton Prince William

    Not much of a bump, but there's a little bit poking out of that gorgeous Alexander McQueen coat!

    More From The Stir: Kate Middleton's Awful Pregnancy Condition Is One I Know All Too Well

    Often pregnant women "show" earlier with a second pregnancy than the first, but with the horrible morning sickness she's experienced for the past few months, it's no surprise poor Kate hasn't exactly been packing on the pounds during this pregnancy.

    Not to mention Prince George's sibling-to-be isn't actually due until April. She's got plenty of time to "pop." What's important is that Kate is feeling well enough to be out and about and looking healthy again. We can't wait to watch that itty bitty bump grow!

    How long did it take you to start feeling up to going out and about after you found out you were pregnant?

    Image via Chris Jackson/Getty Images

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    David BeckhamEbola may be the one word on every parent's lips these days, but talking about it is not enough. Moms and Dads need to be doing something about the disease infecting five people every hour. Not sure how to help? David Beckham has a few ideas on helping the kids with Ebola.

    Yes, that David Beckham. Soccer star. Model. And father of four. He's joined forces with UNICEF to fight for the 8.5 million children living in Ebola-affected areas in Africa.

    More From The Stir: 8 Facts About Ebola That Kids Need to Hear


    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    How can you say no to that?

    According to UNICEF, more than 4,500 people have died from Ebola since March, including kids, and 3,700 children have been orphaned by the virus. It's going to take health care information and supplies to stop the spread and save kids, but that costs money.

    Don't care because it's not happening here?

    Fact: American kids are not at high risk of Ebola. But if we want to protect our children here, that starts by protecting the kids overseas, by helping end the outbreak in places like Sierra Leone. As we've already seen, sick people in Africa have come to the United States ... and that puts our kids here at risk. If you aren't moved simply by seeing kids in need, perhaps knowing that helping them will help your own kids will spur you to act. And you don't have to be an international celebrity like David Beckham to make a difference.

    To donate to UNICEF, visit their Ebola-specific donation page.

    What are YOU doing for the kids affected by Ebola?


    Image via UNICEF/YouTube

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Gisele BundchenGisele Bundchen tends to make a lot of enemies every time she opens her mouth about motherhood. But the model whose photo of herself breastfeeding while being pampered made her the mockery of the mom blogs late last year is nevertheless talking parenthood again, and -- color me crazy -- I think I agree with her this time. 

    Bundchen, who has two children with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, compared a mother's need to put herself before her children to the mandate on airplanes to put your own oxygen mask on before helping other passengers. As she told The Sunday Times:

    You know how they say on the plane that you have to put the oxygen mask on first and then put it on your child? So, I think it is the same, as a mum, to take care of myself.

    You can feel a bit guilty -- you feel guilty if you do and if you don't. But if I put my oxygen mask on first, if I'm feeling fulfilled and present and good about myself, then I'm going to be a much more patient, loving, understanding mother and wife. You have to fill your glass so that everyone can drink from it. That's how I feel.

    Being a lightning rod for criticism, Bundchen has already been called selfish for her comments. Technically, it's true. She's selfish.

    But being selfish isn't always a bad thing. It sounds like Bundchen has figured out something it takes most moms years to really get a handle on: you can't be a good mom if you're always worn out and overwhelmed.

    Because despite the superhuman demands of raising human beings, mothers aren't superhuman. We get tired. We get stressed. We get the flu.

    We are fallible.

    And realizing that is an important step in being a better mother.

    It doesn't come easily. I say this now, but just this past weekend, I was at my wits' end because I'd been working round-the-clock at my three jobs, trying to keep our house clean, dinners made, her homework checked, and fighting a sinus infection. Being a normal 9-year-old, my daughter came into the room where I was working to ask me a silly question, and I snapped at her.

    I immediately felt bad for doing it and apologized right away, but the damage was done. I'd been a bad mom -- even just for a moment -- because I'd been trying too hard to juggle it all, because I hadn't taken some me time, I hadn't been selfish.

    The truth is, when you're trying to do it all, you're rarely doing it all well, and that includes parenting.

    More From The Stir: Your Baby's Needs Are More Important Than Your 'Happiness'

    Bundchen's comments may sound bad if you take her to mean ignoring your kids and going out to party it up every night, but considering this is a mom who once incited a mommy war over her call for a law requiring every mother to breastfeed for at least six months, I'm going to wager that's not what she means at all.

    And even if she does, I don't.

    I know you can be a mom who puts her own oxygen mask on first and is a better mother for it. Because "putting yourself first" doesn't mean treating your children badly. It means treating yourself with kindness and respect in addition to doing the same to your kids.

    Sometimes "putting yourself first" is as simple as sitting in the bathroom for one extra minute to actually FINISH peeing before you tell the toddler banging on the door that they can come in the room.

    Sometimes "putting yourself first" means using a sick day when you're throwing up instead of banking it on the off-chance that little Sally might catch a cold at daycare next month.

    Sometimes "putting yourself first" means telling your kids "mommy has a headache, let's all sit and read quietly instead of setting off every battery-operated noisy toy in the house."

    Today's parents are often accused of raising the most spoiled, entitled generation yet. One study out of San Diego State University claims Gen Y (or Gen Me) kids have a high desire for "material rewards," but lack a "willingness to do the work usually required to earn them." No surprise these are kids being raised by helicopter parents who are so busy doing for their kids that they forget to do for themselves.

    More From The Stir: Gwyneth Paltrow Is a Working Mom So Leave Her Alone Already

    Our kids wouldn't just have kinder, gentler, less stressed moms if we took some time to put ourselves first, they'd actually be more responsible, self-directed, and ready for the world too.

    Isn't that what we're trying to achieve as mothers? Raising good kids who can succeed outside our nests? Is that really selfish?

    What do you think of Gisele's comments? Agree or disagree?


    Image via Pacific Coast News

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    babyIf you gave birth in the spring or summer -- or you have a summer baby on the way -- listen up. Scientists are back looking at the way the season of your birth affects you, and they've got some bad news for parents of the kids born when it's warm and sunny out. They're going to be cranky!

    Winter- and autumn-born kids, on the other hand? They're less prone to mood swings. Or so say researchers from Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary, who looked at some 400 people, the season in which they were born, and whether or not they had a mood disorder.

    More From The Stir: 10 Surprising Facts About Babies Born During the Winter

    The theory is that the timing of birth -- time of year anyway -- can affect how much dopamine and serotonin you have in your brain. Sometimes dubbed "happy chemicals," this is the stuff you need for a stable mood. But spring- and summer-borns just don't seem to have as much as their counterparts born when it's cold out -- which leads to mood swings.

    Those born in autumn were called out as least likely to be depressed, while winter-borns were least likely to suffer from mood swings overall.

    More From The Stir: 7 Surprising Scientific Facts About Fall Babies

    Another big finding? These birth-driven effects often show up later in life rather than right after you're born!

    So enjoy your sunny, happy baby now ... but watch out when they grow up!

    What's your child's mood like? When were they born?


    Image © iStock.com/Matfiej

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    babyIf you gave birth in the spring or summer -- or you have a summer baby on the way -- listen up. Scientists are back looking at the way the season of your birth affects you, and they've got some bad news for parents of the kids born when it's warm and sunny out. They're going to be cranky!

    Winter- and autumn-born kids, on the other hand? They're less prone to mood swings. Or so say researchers from Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary, who looked at some 400 people, the season in which they were born, and whether or not they had a mood disorder.

    More From The Stir: 10 Surprising Facts About Babies Born During the Winter

    The theory is that the timing of birth -- time of year anyway -- can affect how much dopamine and serotonin you have in your brain. Sometimes dubbed "happy chemicals," this is the stuff you need for a stable mood. But spring- and summer-borns just don't seem to have as much as their counterparts born when it's cold out -- which leads to mood swings.

    Those born in autumn were called out as least likely to be depressed, while winter-borns were least likely to suffer from mood swings overall.

    More From The Stir: 7 Surprising Scientific Facts About Fall Babies

    Another big finding? These birth-driven effects often show up later in life rather than right after you're born!

    So enjoy your sunny, happy baby now ... but watch out when they grow up!

    What's your child's mood like? When were they born?


    Image © iStock.com/Matfiej

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    FCKH8 little girls videoThe latest FCKH8 video starts off like an ad for a doll or maybe a toy vacuum cleaner. A group of little girls decked out in princess gear stand in front of a Pepto Bismol pink backdrop and bat their eyelashes at the camera. And then, five seconds in, blam-o, the first of many f-bombs uttered by a child between the ages of 6 and 13.

    It's a ploy to get us to pay attention to the girls' message -- that young girls in this country are facing unequal and sexist treatment at every turn -- but it's hard to hear their message while wincing over a room full of small children cursing repeatedly. Take a look (but be advised there is a LOT of foul language):



    I don't consider myself a prude nor do I consider myself naive. I'm aware that kids as young as 6 have probably heard these words and many have probably said them -- even if it's just once, to try them out.

    My own 9-year-old daughter has done her own practice cursing and been given the talk (scratch that, several talks) on appropriate language. And I have cursed -- on occasion -- in her presence. It happens. We're human. I'm over it.

    More From The Stir: How to Keep Your Toddler From Cursing Like a Sailor

    But an occasional, accidental curse word is not an f-bomb-laden tirade that goes on for 2 1/2 minutes.

    It's not putting adult language -- and not terribly classy adult language at that -- in the mouths of children and expecting parents to be OK with it because "it's a good cause."

    But is a good cause enough of a reason to have kids talk like this? When we parents are so busy trying to teach our young children to act maturely in order to get what they want?

    Yes, FCKH8 wants us to focus on a weighty issue -- feminism -- and they certainly got our attention with this ploy. But I can't see that it was really necessary. There are plenty of other ways to grab our attention that are less crass -- we see curse-free viral videos every day.

    The broader message is lost here because it's been sullied by a coarse and unsophisticated approach to an issue that takes civility and education to address.

    As parents, we are tasked with trying to teach our kids the right way to solve problems. Part of that is having the appropriate language to talk about the issues at hand in a civilized manner, to be able to bring people to the table rather than drive them away.

    More From The Stir: Pink Thinks It's Cute When 3-Year-Old Daughter Drops the F Bomb (VIDEO)

    Letting kids curse to prove a point doesn't garner them any respect, and if they can't get respect, how is the issue they're addressing going to get any?

    Do you think it's OK for kids to curse if it's "for good"? Would you let your daughter appear in this video?


    Image via FCKH8/Facebook

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    mom talking to teensWant to feel old? Spend five minutes with a teenager -- or hop on their Facebook page -- and try to make sense of what they're saying. Between the sentences ending in "doe" -- or is it "tho"? -- and the references to their "bae," today's kids often seem like they're speaking another language.

    In a way they are. Every generation has its own jargon. Remember "yadda, yadda, yadda," "bite me," or "chill"?

    But to save you a lot of confusion -- not to mention embarrassment -- when talking to your teenager and their friends, The Stir asked a group of teens to give us a guide to how to talk today's teen. You're welcome (we think).

    1. Bye Felicia -- A dismissal. From the movie Friday, it's generally a response to someone who says they're leaving to indicate you don't care that they're going.

    2. Ending sentences with "tho" or "doe" -- Despite everything. Essentially, it's a way of saying something "makes up for" something else (example: She's not nice. But that smile, doe.).

    3. Bae -- Before anything else, or another way of referring to your significant other. It was made popular in a song by Pharrell.

    4. Bruh -- Another way of saying "bro."

    5. Thot -- That ho over there (yes, we're hoping you never hear this one).

    6. On fleek -- On point.

    7. Basic -- Ordinary, lame.

    8. Ratchet -- Gross.

    More From The Stir: 12 Hand Signals Your Teen Might Be Making & What They Mean

    9. Deuces -- A sarcastic way of saying goodbye.

    10. Stank face -- A glaring face (like the one you give them when they bring home an F in calculus).

    11. Cake -- Butt.

    12. Legit -- Short for legitimate; real.

    13. Dope -- Cool.

    14. Dat ass -- A large or well-formed butt (typically you hear "dat ass, doe" -- see above).

    15. Hella -- Very.

    16. Mad -- A lot or very.

    17. Sorry not sorry -- A sarcastic apology.

    18. Creeper -- A creepy person.

    19. Sketch -- Creepy.

    20. Turn up -- Go crazy, let loose.

    21. Slayed -- Something made you laugh so hard you're dead.

    22. I'm not about that life -- How to refer to something you're not into.

    23. Can you not? --How to ask someone to stop.

    24. Word -- A way to agree to something.

    25. I can't even -- Sarcastic way of saying you can't deal with something.

    26. Turnt -- Messed up (usually on drugs or alcohol).

    27. Sucks to suck -- A sarcastic (sensing a theme here?) response to someone complaining.

    28. That gives me a boner (when said by a girl) -- Totally unsexy.

    29. I'm good -- A sarcastic version of "no thank you."

    30. Grouse -- An adjective for something really amazing (not to be confused with gross!).

    31. Throwing shade -- Trash talking.

    32. I'm sleeping -- No, they're not snoozing, it just means "this conversation is over.

    33. I live for it -- (Direct quote from a teen here) "I love it but more extreme because you would totes die without it."

    34. Totes -- Totally.

    35. You tweakin' -- Not to be confused with just plain "tweaking" (which refers to using crystal meth), this one means "you're freaking out for no reason."

    What phrases are your teens saying all the time?

    Image © Steve Debenport

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    trick or treatingI have a confession to make. For the past eight years, I've committed a serious sin every October, and I'm about to do it again. Every Halloween, I take my kid to another neighborhood to trick or treat.

    It's called neighborhood hopping, and from the way a mom sounded off to Dear Prudence this week in a column that's gone viral (thanks in no small part to Prudence's no-nonsense answer), it's one of those Halloween no-nos that divides parents right down the middle. Living in a rich area, the question writer bemoaned the habit of kids from "less fortunate" areas being driven to her neighborhood to load up on treats ... forcing her to pay for candy for strangers' kids. 

    More From The Stir: 9 Halloween Treats That Are So Much Better Than Candy

    Now, I should make it clear that I'm not destitute. And perhaps that will make my sin of driving my child to another town to get some free candy that much worse in some folks' eyes.

    Why, you may ask, should folks in the "good" part of town have to foot the bill for kids like mine?

    Well, let's get one fact out of the way: no one HAS to foot the bill for my kid's candy or anyone else's on Halloween. If you don't want to participate in community festivities, the answer is pretty simple: leave your porch lights dim and hide in a back bedroom. It's what plenty of folks do, including most of the folks in my small neighborhood. 

    People just don't seem to be "into" Halloween where I live, giving my daughter very few chances to climb someone's porch and practice her best "trick or treat!"

    To further complicate matters, we live in a rural area without sidewalks. Moving from house to house means driving, parking, taking her into a house, then going back to the car, driving, parking, and so on. It's a hassle for me, but also makes me uneasy considering the high risk of a child being hit by a car on Halloween.

    So it was an easy decision for me to do the very thing that seems to upset folks like the woman who wrote to Dear Prudence this week complaining.

    More From The Stir: Kids' Halloween Candy Scare: Why Cops Are Issuing Warnings About Drugs

    I drive 10 minutes away from my neighborhood to another town so my daughter can trick or treat in a safer area where the homes are close together for convenient walking, and the fire department brings out its trucks to light the streets to enhance safety. I drive 10 minutes to a neighborhood that's known for trick or treating, meaning drivers are on alert to move more slowly and extra parents are always looking out for one another's kids. I drive 10 minutes away from my neighborhood because this other town actually rolls out the welcome mat for kids, giving my daughter the "fun" Halloween that she wouldn't get if we stayed right around our house.

    And I don't feel guilty. Not in the least bit.

    When I first started doing it, I didn't even think twice about the decision. I actually grew up on a dead end road populated mostly by second homeowners. We had no place to trick or treat in our "neighborhood," so my parents drove us 10 minutes away -- to the very town where I now take my daughter. I guess you could say neighborhood hopping is in my blood.

    But there's one more thing that makes driving one town over on Halloween so easy for me to do.

    It's the way the people in that town treat my kid and every other kid we see on Halloween. They throw open their doors. They take photos of the costumes. They smile. They laugh.

    Unlike the disgruntled tightwad complaining to Dear Prudence, the people in the town where I trick or treat let parents like me and kids like mine know that what they care most about on this one day of the year is not money or where you get your mail but that theirs is a community where childhood is cherished, where they want to create good memories for little ones.

    A year ago, after I started seeing "neighborhood hopping" complaints online, I even asked several of the homeowners how they feel about the influx of visitors from other towns. Their answers were all pretty much the same: the more, the merrier. Halloween is their town's time to shine, and their chance to give something to our children.

    And if they want to go on over to my neighborhood, my husband will be waiting with a light on and a bowl of candy ... no need to show proof of residence. 

    How do you feel about neighborhood hopping? Is it rude or do you just want the kids to have a good time?



    Image via © iStock.com/Jani Bryson

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    teenage girl shortsPop quiz: do you think girls should be sent home from school if their clothing choices that day are "distracting" the boys? Plenty of school districts have mandates of this type. Everything from leggings to tank tops are verboten for the sole reason that a girl wearing them may get her male classmates hot and bothered. But writer Kim Katrin Milan has stirred up a debate with a photo about the message sent to girls when they're sent home from school for wearing "provocative" clothing.

    Those girls, Milan says, are being told that their education is less important than a "distraction-free" environment for boys. But there's more. Check out her viral photo:



    It's an interesting, and rarely discussed twist on the age old dress code debate.

    But is it right? Should the focus be on letting girls stay in school or on making sure BOTH boys and girls are held to equal standards in order to ensure fairness?

    What do you think the answer is here?


    Image © iStock.com/Balazs Kovacs

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    flu shotOn a scale of 1 to 10, the day you take your kids in for their shots ranks a solid -2. They're looking at you with those puppy dog eyes wondering why you would inflict pain on them, and you're hoping against hope that they won't feel it for more than a minute. You may be tempted to pull out all the stops ... but here's hoping you don't pull out the reason one pediatrician had for a little girl to get her flu mist vaccine.

    Because it would make her strong? Because it would prevent a disease that killed 105 kids last year? No. And no.

    As a dad related on Out With the Kids recently, one doc told his pint-sized female patient:

    You know why you should get the flu mist, sweetie? Because all the boys at school will think you’re cute.

    Um, what now?

    My daughter will get a big ol' shot in the arm this year -- as she has for the last eight years -- because the CDC has said that everyone 6 months and up needs a flu shot to protect them from a vaccine-preventable deadly disease. But that is exactly how I will present it: this shot in the arm, while painful, will keep you from getting VERY sick. What boys think is ENTIRELY irrelevant because you're a human being who is important, regardless of what members of the opposite sex (or heck, the same sex) think of you.

    File this under one thing the pro-vaccine crowd AND the anti can agree on: this the worst reason to give your kid the flu mist this year.

    What did you say to convince your kids to get a flu shot this year?


    Image © iStock.com/Catherine Lane

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Mama JuneWell, it's come to this. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is being cancelled because family matriarch June Shannon is reportedly dating a sex offender who spent 10 years in prison for child molestation. Whether Mama June is really hooking up with a pedophile or not is still up for debate -- she's vehemently denying it -- but the case has every mom in America re-thinking who it is she lets into her life and the lives of her children.

    Can you blame us?

    Fact: most Americans are not pedophiles. Heck, we all probably have as much chance of running into a child molester as we do of getting a starring role on a TLC reality show. But 1.8 million adolescents in the United States have been the victims of sexual assault, and 60 percent or more of those kids were abused by someone they knew.

    It's one of the myriad things that makes being a parent -- whether you're a single mom like June Shannon or just a mom trying to make a few new friends -- so hard. We know in our minds that most people are not going to be a threat to our kids, but we also have that niggling feeling way in the back of our minds that's screaming, "But that 1 percent is still a risk!"

    More From The Stir: Why 'Stranger Danger' Doesn't Work: Tips for Keeping Kids Safe From Predators

    And who wants to take the risk?

    Sure, free-range parents like Lenore Skenazy of "I let my 9-year-old ride the subway" fame may poke fun at us, but all it takes is one story like this in the news to make you run back into your house and slam the door screaming, I'm good, thanks!

    Because no one wants to be the mom who invited a pedophile into the house.

    Of course, the onus seems to weigh most heavily on single moms like June Shannon, who was recently divorced and is back out on the dating scene. Her alleged relationship with Mark McDaniel, a man who spent time in prison for oral sex on an 8-year-old, is every single mother's nightmare. Who are the new men you're meeting and what is it they want with a single mother?

    But let's be clear: what makes the Honey Boo Boo scandal get us so riled up isn't that this one woman may (or may not!) have invited a pedophile into her home. It's the fear that something similar could happen to any one of us.

    It probably won't, but it can and it does happen to anyone, from any walk of life.

    So what are we all to do? Keep our eyes open. Trust our instincts. And hope against hope that it's not someone we know.

    What have you made of the whole Mama June scandal? Do you have the fear that someone you know could hurt your kid?


    Image via real_honeybooboo_mamajune31054/Instagram

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    LeVar BurtonParents of America, it's looking like Christmas has come early. Two of our favorite things have collided one soon-to-be-classic video. "Star of one of the best-loved kids shows ever" LeVar Burton and "looks like a children's book but is really for parents" Go the F--k to Sleep. Yes, the host of Reading Rainbow sat down for story time at a charity event for Children's Miracle Network hospitals and read ... to parents!

    Fortunately for every exhausted parent in America, the event was caught on video, so we get to hear the man who spent more than a decade turning American kids on to some really good books tell our kids what we REALLY think of their bedtime antics (needless to say, profanity ahead, so kick the kiddies out of the room):

    More From The Stir: 25 Top Chapter Books to Read With Your Child at Bedtime

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    Ahem ... whoever says parents don't benefit from story time has apparently never heard LeVar Burton read Mom and Dad a bedtime tale!

    But something tells us the Reading Rainbow reboot we're hoping will come to TV screens soon (fingers crossed) won't feature this tale ...

    What was your favorite Reading Rainbow episode? Have you shared the show with your kids yet?


    Image via mkmcnll/YouTube


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    baby diaper wipesIf you've ever thought about making your own baby wipes, now may be the time to pull up that pin on Pinterest and get cracking. The US Food and Drug Administration has announced a massive baby wipes recallthat affects products sold to parents in hundreds of stores around the country.

    Nutek Disposables, the company behind the wipes -- marketed under a variety of store brand names -- has joined with the FDA in a voluntary recall after testing found the presence of a bacteria called Burkholderia cepacia (B. cepacia) in some wipes. If you think the package in your diaper bag could be affected, here's what you need to know:

    1. The bacteria in question is not usually a problem for healthy people, however, it can present a problem for those with weakened immune systems or chronic lung diseases, particularly cystic fibrosis.

    2. All lots of wipes under the following brand names are subject to the recall: Cuties, Diapers.com, Femtex, Fred's, Kidgets, Member's Mark, Simply Right, Sunny Smiles, and Tender Touch. Wipes marketed under the name Well Beginnings are also being recalled, but only those manufactured by Nutek (check your packaging for manufacturer name).

    3. The recalled products were sold at Walgreens, Sam's Club, Family Dollar, Fred's, and Diapers.com through October 21.

    4. Parents are advised to stop using the wipes immediately and return to their store of purchase for a full refund or to call Nutek at 1-855-646-4351, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. EDT.

    What kind of wipes are you using on your baby?


    Image via © iStock.com/FamVeld

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Meghan TrainorWe were in the middle of a conversation, when my daughter interrupted with a shout: "Mommy, turn up the radio! I love this song!" I spun the dial and instantly regretted it. What my daughter had heard over my prattling on about this that and the other thing were the opening strains of All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor.

    Of course it was. Pretty much the last song our daughters should be listening to just happens to be the hottest song on the radio at the moment.

    More From The Stir: 'Slutty' Girls vs. Sexist Boys: Why Schools Have Dress Codes All Wrong (PHOTO)

    The song is a big hit with women especially, it seems. I can't begin to count the number of Facebook status updates I've seen in recent weeks, quoting the lyrics and calling it a feminist anthem or praising 20-year-old Trainor for a body-positive message.

    But as the mother of a daughter, I shudder every time the song comes on, and when my daughter started bopping around in the back seat of the family car, I had to speak up about the one lyric that really makes me scream:

    Yeah, my mama she told me don't worry about your size. She says, "Boys like a little more booty to hold at night."

    Sorry, ladies, but telling a little girl that it's OK to have curves because boys like them is neither body-positive nor pro-feminist. It's just another way of making girls feel like they have to conform to a standard set by the males in our society.

    Considering our girls are subject to enough male-centric "rules" created for them (anyone looked at who's voting on female reproductive rights lately?) in this society, it's more important than ever for parents to tell our girls that they have the power to make decisions based on their own needs and desires -- not those of some guy.

    More From The Stir: I Won't Stop Telling My Daughter She's Beautiful

    And yet Trainor's reference to her "mama" telling her what boys like is particularly telling. Moms (and dads!) can easily fall into the trap of not-so subtly telling girls their worth is based on the likes and dislikes of the opposite sex for the same reason that Trainor likely included it in this song: because at the outset, it sounds good. You're telling a girl something nice about her body; how could that possibly be bad? 

    Except it is.

    Because our daughters' self worth shouldn't be contingent upon someone else's approval.

    That's why I interrupted Trainor's singing on Sunday -- much to my 9-year-old's chagrin -- to tell my daughter all of this. It's not the first time I've said it, and it won't be the last, but I wanted her to hear from someone that "every inch of her IS perfect, from the bottom to the top," but not because some little boy on the playground thinks the little pooch in her belly is cute. It's perfect because she's one gorgeous, smart, hilarious human being.

    She needs to learn to fall in love with herself, her body, her personality, her emotions, her brains ... regardless of what the boys think of who she is.

    I may have gotten an eye roll and an assertion that she just likes to sing "All about that bass, no treble," and not the other part, but at least I tried. And I will keep trying ... because I need my voice to drown out all the others telling her to make herself over for a boy.

    Here's the video, in case you haven't heard the song yet:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    Does your daughter listen to this song? How do you counteract its messages?


    Image via Meghan Trainor VEVO/YouTube

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    baby car seatRight on the heels of a massive baby wipes recall, there's more bad news for moms: a car seat recall affecting some 200,000 safety seats has been issued. Maker Evenflo recalled 1.3 million car seats earlier this year due to a faulty buckle, and now the company has expanded that recall, working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to get additional seats addressed.

    According to Evenflo, the recalled seats contain a "harness crotch buckle which may become resistant to unlatching over time, due to exposure to various contaminants (like food and drinks) that are present in everyday use." If you're driving around with an Evenflo seat in your car, here's what you need to know:

    1. This recall is for the Embrace 35 two-piece, rear-facing infant child restraint. The recalled seats are those equipped with an AmSafe QT1 buckle, which is the focus of the recall, but not every Embrace 35 has one of these buckles, so check your model number.

    More From The Stir: Massive Baby Wipes Recall: 4 Things Parents Need to Know

    2. The model numbers of the affected seats are as follows: 30711365, 31511040, 31511323, 31511400, 3151198, 3151953, 31521138, 46811205, 46811237, 48111200, 48111215, 48111215A, 48111218, 48111234, 48111235, 48111235A, 48111462, 48411391, 48411391D, 48411392, 48411504, 48411504D, 52911307A, 52921040, 55311138, 55311238, and 55311292.

    3. The seats were manufactured between December 2011 and May 2013.

    4. Although the car seat itself meets crash test standards, the NHTSA warns the buckle may not release easily, which could prove to be dangerous in case of an accident or other event where a child has to be removed quickly from the car.

    5. Parents should not bring their car seat to a retailer. Instead, moms are asked to call Evenflo, 800-490-7591, or visit the Embrace Recall website to get a repair kit for the buckle at no cost.

    6. While waiting for your repair kit, you can also clean the buckle to make it a little safer.

    Have you experienced issues with your child's car seat buckle? What car seat do you use?


    Image via NHTSA

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    teal pumpkinOnce upon a time, handing out candy-free treats on Halloween was like asking your house to be egged. But in a time when one in every 13 kids has a food allergy, doling out glow sticks and rubber bracelets may just make your house the safest place on the block. But how do all those kids who need to avoid the milk, the nuts, and the other scary allergens hiding in the neighborhood know how to get to your house? By the teal pumpkin in your front yard, of course!

    Don't have a teal pumpkin? You're going to want to get one.

    Teal is the color for food allergy awareness, and the Teal Pumpkin Project, an effort by the non-profit Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), has gone nationwide. Parents of kids with food allergies are being told to keep their eyes peeled for these stand-out gourds.

    More From The Stir: 20 Candy-Free Halloween Treats That Won't Get Your House Egged

    All you have to do is pick up a pumpkin, throw on some teal paint, and place it outside. Then stock up on food-free (not just candy-free) treats to hand out to kids. The folks at FARE suggest reading labels to ensure treats are truly allergen-free -- Play-Doh, for example, contains wheat -- but what you hand out is really up to the limits of your imagination.

    And if you still want to hand out candy, do it! Just place the food in a separate bowl so you don't contaminate the food-free treats.

    What are you going to be handing out for Halloween this year?


    Image via Food Allergy Research & Education

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