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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.

    Leah DeVun photo series

    It wasn't long after Leah DeVun had given birth to her now-6-year-old son that she started talking to other moms about birth. A common theme emerged: Disappointment. "Things hadn't gone as planned," the Brooklyn, New York, artist tells CafeMom. "Our bodies hadn't been capable of giving birth or breastfeeding as we imagined they would do naturally." It was those conversations that laid the groundwork for a stunning photo series exploring the medical technologies that assist women with breastfeeding.

    Called "In the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," DeVun's series features moms she found on a Brooklyn listserv -- moms whom she invited to pose with the apparatus they used for breastfeeding.


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Big Bird on bench The White House is busy trying to make excuses for deep cuts proposed in the president's federal budget plan, but budget director Mick Mulvaney seems to have forgotten his target audience. Mulvaney showed up on Morning Joe to defend the president's plan to slash federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting -- aka the folks who bring American kids Sesame Street -- with a claim that "a single mom in Detroit" or a "coal miner in West Virginia" shouldn't have to pay for the service.

    Mulvaney says the government will ask that single mom and coal miner to pay for the defense budget instead.

    With all due respect to our troops (that cannot be stressed enough -- our troops deserve unending thanks), is this really an either/or proposition? We can fund defense and give kids Elmo, too, as we've done for years.

    Besides, who exactly does the White House think takes advantage of federally funded offerings like Sesame Street if not the single mom in Detroit or the coal miner in West Virginia? 

    More from CafeMom: Kellyanne Conway Admits Working Moms Struggle -- If Only She Could Change That

    It's the very fact that they're federally funded, and thus free to the public, that has made Elmo, Cookie Monster, and the gang so vital to so many young kids in America. That is why many people were shocked when HBO purchased the rights to new Sesame Street episodes, making families without a subscription wait months for new episodes to appear on PBS.

    PBS estimates 1.8 million Americans are registered on its PBS Learning Media site. The organization provides more than 100,000 educational tools to American teachers. And then there's the programming itself, watched by 200 million people a year, including moms, dads, and kids.

    More from CafeMom: 5 Ways Parents Can Protect Their Public Schools From Betsy DeVos

    The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)'s screen time recommendations point directly to PBS programming for its educational value. And one study out of the University of Maryland actually found Sesame Street in particular has enabled kids to stay on the grade level that's typical for their age, and that advantage was particularly noted in children who grow up in disadvantaged areas, kids whose parents are less likely to be able to afford extra educational materials for their toddlers. The 2015 study said the effects of Sesame Street are so powerful, they're actually on par with sending a child to preschool.

    While we're certainly not advocating TV replace preschool, the latter isn't attainable for everyone. Quality educational TV has value, and it's not easy to find. And the AAP itself points out that Sesame Street makes a good supplement for toddler education.

    For comparison's sake, sending a child to preschool can cost anywhere from $4,460 to $13,158 per year ($372 to $1,100 monthly), according to the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies.

    More from CafeMom: Girl Scouts Honor Women Icons in This Adorably Kickass Photo Series

    So how much does that single mom in Detroit or the West Virginia coal miner spend on PBS? Just $1.35 a year.

    That's the cost per American citizen to keep Sesame Street reruns and other kid favorites, like Caillou, Arthur, and Maya & Miguel, on the air. That's it!

    For every $100 in federal spending, PBS gets just 1 cent.

    Under the president's plan, that number would go away entirely -- the White House plan will increase military spending by $54 billion while it eliminates funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and slashes the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Oh, and yes, those budgets all provide jobs for average Americans that will be slashed too.

    More from CafeMom: 23 Female 'Firsts' Who Broke Glass Ceilings in Their Fields

    Unfortunately, Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, says there really is no way to make up for a cut like this. Per a statement from Harrison's office:

    There is no viable substitute for federal funding that ensures Americans have universal access to public media's educational and informational programming and services. The elimination of federal funding to CPB would initially devastate and ultimately destroy public media's role in early childhood education, public safety, connecting citizens to our history, and promoting civil discussions -- for Americans in both rural and urban communities.

    Times are tough. But for $1.35 a year, is it really worth it to take away something that has such a positive impact on so many American families, regardless of their income bracket or even whether they have kids (ahem, PBS NewsHour is for all!)?


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    water birth

    It's the sort of story that can send a pregnant woman into a panic. A mom in England rushed her unresponsive son to the hospital at 10 days old, where he was diagnosed with E. coli meningitis, a disease that almost killed him. Doctors are mystified as to how the little boy came down with the often deadly disease, but the mom says there can be just one source: Her baby was born via water birth

    Nicola Wilkins thinks bacteria in the water is to blame for the disease -- one that most commonly occurs in babies 3 months or younger. If you're pregnant and planning a water birth, news like that may send you rushing for the phone to call it all off. But hold off for just a few seconds.

    More from CafeMom: 

    Giving birth in the water does mean welcoming baby in a tub full of bacteria. Tests of birth tubs have found E. coli, staph aureus, colibacilli, and other organisms in the water. One of the big culprits: a mom's own poop, as a significant number of women have a bowel movement during the labor process.

    But according to Dr. Ashanti Woods, attending pediatrician at Mercy Medical Center, Family Health Centers of Baltimore, Maryland, studies show that water birth is no riskier than any other method, at least not when infection is considered. While he declined to speak to Wilkins's case, Woods said bacterial concerns about water birth have not been taken lightly, but the popular labor practice has come out on the clean side. 

    "Even though the bacterial load is high, babies born in water do not appear to get infections at any higher rate when compared to babies born by traditional vaginal delivery or C-Section," he notes.  

    Nor do water births seem to pose any additional health risks: A study of more than 6,500 midwife-attended water births released by Oregon State researchers in 2016 shows newborns born in water were no more likely than newborns born out of the water to experience low Apgar scores, require transfer to the hospital after birth, or be hospitalized in their first six weeks of life. 

    Hospitals and birthing centers do have rules meant to limit infection issues, and many use disposable tub liners so each mom starts out in a sanitized environment. Even when liners are used, there are still sanitation guidelines for the staff to follow and which should be available should you ask. 

    More from CafeMom: Why Pregnant Moms Are Being Warned Not to Use Hair Spray

    The official American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stance states water births present no health benefits to baby. But Woods, a fellow of the AAP, says there are benefits for moms themselves. 

    Water births have been linked to decreased risk of tearing or episiotomy, decreased need for pain relief intervention, and even shorter labors. 

    "One could reason happy mom, happy baby," Woods says. 

    Wilkins's plight is certainly one that draws sympathy. No mom should have to wonder if her newborn is going to die, and it's a relief knowing the little guy made it through okay. 

    But their health battle need not be the make-or-break portion of your decision about how to give birth. If you want a water birth, your ob-gyn or midwife is the best person to tell you whether or not you're a candidate and what you need to do to ensure both you and your baby are healthy and safe on delivery day. 


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    man typing on computer
    Facebook Live has enabled people to connect with one another from hundreds of thousands of miles away, but it seems the real-time videos haven't made us any more empathetic. Case in point: Police say a Chicago-area teenager was sexually assaulted on Sunday, and roughly 40 viewers were watching the horror as it went down via Facebook Live.

    None of the roughly 40 viewers, a viewership that the girl's family alleges included adults (who should have more wherewithal than teenagers), got the authorities involved.

    More from CafeMom: How to Teach Your Kids the Importance of Truth in the Age of Fake News

    Nor did any of them report the video to Facebook -- it remained live on the site until police contacted the company to have the evidence of the 15-year-old's assault by as many as six assailants removed so she didn't have to undergo additional trauma.

    Could there be a more unsettling look at how society determines when it's worth getting involved and when it'll turn a blind eye?

    "She was heinously raped, beaten and abused and assaulted on tape -- on FB live," Reginald King, the victim's relative, told ABC 7 Chicago. "So whatever picture people want to paint of her -- she was a chronic runaway or whatever -- nobody deserves that. No human being deserves for that to happen to them." King said it was actually a teen who told him that the video existed.

    We've all seen Internet comment threads turn into all-out wars in minutes, often on articles on Facebook itself. It's clear that we'll jump into the fray on just about anything -- be it an argument about politics or rainbow cake recipes.

    When the folks at FiveThirtyEight asked people why they comment on the Internet, the overwhelming reason given for getting involved was to correct an error.

    But can you think of any behavior that's in more dire need of immediate correction than the sexual assault of a child, or something that's more necessary to stop than a gang assault?

    It also bears mentioning that a 911 call could even be done anonymously, while Facebook battles happen with a person's name attached. It seems we're more willing to wade in on a debate about food coloring in a cake with our names on the line than we are to step up and protect a child from being harmed -- even anonymously.

    More from CafeMom: Teachers Explain Exactly Why Betsy DeVos Would Be a Disaster for Our Kids

    The girl in the video has made it home to her mom, albeit days after the assault, and now she's facing the aftermath of the trauma while police search for the alleged perpetrators (one has been arrested so far). The watchers can't return to the moment when they could have made a difference in this girl's life, but their inaction serves as a sharp reminder that "see something, say something" isn't just a catchy phrase. It's a moral responsibility that we -- and our kids -- should be taking more seriously. At least as seriously as a rainbow cake.


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    newborn baby

    It's likely no one can remember what they were feeling the exact moment they were born, pushed (or pulled!) out of their cozy little home and thrust into the unfamilar. But thanks to the magic of birth photography, we finally have a sense what's going on in babies' heads when they arrive, and it's along the lines of what most of us feel when we wake up in the morning: "Do I really have to wake up and face people?"

    Just take a look at the evidence! 


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    grandpa's gift to granddaughter
    Have you had a good cry today? You’re going to need some tissues for this one. A teenager's tweet has gone viral after she shared photos of a gift from her grandpa. The sweet-hearted granddad wrote out records of their adventures together from when his granddaughter Lauren was ages 2 to 5, and he held onto the notebooks full of stories to share with her on her 16th birthday.

    The first edition is called Papa's Story, and it advises future Lauren, "just starting this so someday you might read it for fun ... It's going to be a day to day record of you and me."

    granddaughter tweet

    More From CafeMom: This 'BBC Dad' Parody Proves Moms Are the Ones Who Hold Sh*t Together

    Go ahead. Click though those photos and let out your awwwwww.

    The rest of the Internet has, with responses ranging from gifs of Stephen Colbert sobbing to gems like this:



    And this: 

    tweet

    In an age when we're used to photos of the Kardashians going viral or Twitter threads turning vicious and mean, there's something sweet and wholesome not just about Grandpa's notebooks but how people are reacting to them. People are being kind -- to Lauren, to her grandfather, to one another. There's a sense that at the end of the day, people really do appreciate the little things, the homemade gifts, the quality time spent with a loved one.

    There's no doubt that after peeking at the photos, more than a few folks are pulling out their phones to call their own grandparents, or pulling out photo albums to reminisce about times gone by with the people we hold dear.

    More From CafeMom: 12 Reasons Millennial Women Should Thank Their Moms & Grandmas

    We don't get many reminders to slow down and appreciate the little things, especially not on the Internet of all places, but seeing a teenager rendered -- in her words -- speechless and then seeing people’s stories of love and kindness today is the perfect way to start a weekend.

    And if you've got young kids in your life -- grandkids, nieces, nephews, maybe even your own kids -- a word to the wise: They don't need "stuff." A few notes on your adventures is enough.


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Millie Holloman always knew she'd become a mom. She just didn't know the path she'd take to get there ... at least not until she began looking into foster care. As a photographer, Holloman was a business owner with a flexible schedule and plenty of room in both her heart and her house. Now three years after signing on to care for kids who need it most, Holloman has just become a "legal" mom, and a beautiful series of photos she shared celebrating the event shows that it really does take a village.

    Holloman tells CafeMom the photos of her "village," each showing a person or people holding up a signboard with a personalized statement, celebrate the people who supported her on her journey to motherhood.

    "I’ve often said that when I signed up for foster care, I signed up for the heartache and pain that often come with it," Holloman wrote  in her now viral Facebook post.  "But my family and friends didn’t sign those papers, just me. I just drug them all into it. They've been through the ups and downs with me. They've supported me when I called crying after court hearings or given me a shoulder to cry on when I’ve had to buckle kids in their car seat and send them off with another family to love. They have fallen in love with these kids and they have prayed big prayers for us all. They have stepped up and filled in the gaps for the roles I can't be to these kids."

    She never meant for the photos celebrating her adoption and her village to go viral -- she just wanted daughter Vera Wren to have something to look back on, something to show her how incredibly loved and wanted she was from the very first day of her new life.


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    breastfeeding

    Because moms can't seem to get enough of the debate over whether or not breastfeeding will get their babies into Harvard, scientists are once again studying the effect nursing your newborn will have on his or her IQ down the road. Are you ready for this one? The word from researchers at University College Dublin is there's not a single shred of evidence that breastfeeding is going to make your baby smarter.

    Now, now, it's not all bad news for breastfeeding moms. The study published in Pediatrics does say there's a link between breastfeeding for at least six months and a reduction in hyperactive behavior among the toddler set -- although the effects appear to diminish after age 5. Not to mention some parents actually enjoy breastfeeding -- it can work best for their schedule, you don't have to run to the grocery store to buy formula, and on and on. There are plenty of good reasons to breastfeed.

    More from CafeMom: Mom's Joyful Photos Celebrate Every Person Who Helped Her Adopt This Little Girl

    But, as one of those moms who failed miserably at breastfeeding despite my best efforts, I can't help but let loose a big fat sigh of relief on this one ... and not because I'm worried about my child. Not anymore, anyway. She's now 11 and makes top marks in school, where no one looking at her can tell that she spent her first two weeks of life wailing at the top of her lungs while her desperate mother traded off nursing and pumping every other hour in a futile attempt to amp up milk production. She sits beside a little boy whose mom makes no bones about the fact that she didn't even try to breastfeed, a little boy whom she sees as one of her biggest challengers for "top of the class" grade status.

    But, but, but it's purely anecdotal that these two children who weren't breastfed happen to be high achievers in school, right?

    Yes, it is. But so is much of the "evidence" touted by the "I'm nursing my future doctor" parents out there. Numerous studies that have claimed a link between nursing and IQ have big "buts" that don't make it into the headlines, such as genetics and socioeconomic status. As this latest study shows, moms with higher IQs or more financial means tend to have better access to the support system required to sustain long-term breastfeeding. Of course that means their babies have the potential of higher IQ hardwired into their DNA and access to more educational resources in their crucial early years.

    And yet, we keep seeing the claim pop up that nursing makes babies smarter.

    Why?

    Because there's no easier way to prey upon a mother's guilt than by accusing her of ruining her child's future. Think about it ... we all want to raise our kids to be happy, healthy, and successful. But while we can see tangible benefits such as a baby's sleeping better or being less gassy (both things some moms say breastfeeding offers over formula) right away, there's no way to measure future success out of the starting gate. We're all fumbling around in the dark, and we're all terrified of screwing up.

    Telling a mom she's not doing all she can to build a baby's brain is tantamount to saying, "Your kid's going to suck at life."

    Most parents will do anything they can to prevent that, often going to ridiculous lengths to make breastfeeding work ... even when it hurts mom, dad, and, yes, sometimes baby.

    More from CafeMom: 18 Adorable Newborns Who Look as Grumpy About Being Awake as We Are

    But here, once again, scientists have shown us it's all a ruse. Breastfeeding your baby into an esteemed institution of higher learning is about as futile as the two weeks I spent pumping and nursing my way into exhaustion in a round-the-clock cycle that did not increase my milk production but did send me spiraling into postpartum depression.

    If you want to breastfeed, go ahead. Do it. There are countless science-supported reasons to nurse. But if you don't want to breastfeed or can't, just remember, your kid may still end up at the top of her sixth grade class or, who knows, a Yale valedictorian.

    And if she's not ... it's not because she didn't get enough breast milk. 


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    family covered in mud

    We may live in an Instagram-filtered, Pinterest-perfect world, but if the reaction to one family's
    unusual maternity photo shoot is any indication, most of us prefer the real thing, even when it's a little (or a lot) messy.

    The photos, taken by Dallas birth photographer Elaine Baca, show very pregnant mom-to-be Brittany Barton, her husband Jon, and their two oldest sons throwing, dancing in, and just generally living it up in the Texas mud.

    Not what you'd have in mind for your maternity session? Apparently it wasn't what Brittany planned either, but as Baca told CafeMom, "In Waxahachie, Texas, when it rains it pours. In the weeks leading up to the maternity session, the rain was relentless."

    The family rescheduled several times and considered indoor photo locales, but Baca had a better idea for the family. She knew they were outdoorsy, fun, and up for anything. "They have a huge backyard which backs up to a field, and I knew it had lots of muddy puddles, so I asked her what she thought about playing in the rain and ending with a mud fight," the owner of Lane B Photography says. "I don't think she even hesitated; she said she trusted my vision and wanted to go for it!"

    The results are pure magic ... a reminder that life may get messy, but that's part of the fun, especially when you have kids!


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Adam Levine and Alicia Keys singing
    Ready for your new mantra? You can thank Alicia Keys for this one. When fellow Voice judge Adam Levine recently commented on her makeup use, the "Girl on Fire" singer responded in pretty much the best way possible.

    In case you missed it, Levine told Howard Stern he noticed Keys putting on makeup and commented that he didn't think she wore any. Her response, he says? "I do what the f*ck I want!"  

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

      Yaaaaaaas, queen!   More from CafeMom:    Now, granted, Levine (who kinda loved her response, too) wasn't totally talking out of his ass. Keys wrote an empowering piece about ditching lipstick, eyeliner, and the whole shebang for Lenny Letter in May 2016. As she said at the time: Every time I left the house, I would be worried if I didn't put on makeup: What if someone wanted a picture?? What if they POSTED it??? These were the insecure, superficial, but honest thoughts I was thinking. And all of it, one way or another, was based too much on what other people thought of me ... I don't want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing. Pretty great, right? But just because Keys said she didn't want to wear as much makeup as she once did doesn't mean she can never again go outside with a little eyeshadow and gloss.   As she says herself, we can do whatever the f*ck we want, because we're much more complicated creatures than one comment made at one point in time would indicate.    Unfortunately we've become so obsessed with putting people into itty-bitty little boxes in this world that it's rare when we acknowledge that people can think many things at the same time. Just look at your Facebook feed, and you'll see what we mean. People are judged pretty harshly for changing their minds, and the fact that comments live forever on the Internet makes it hard to escape calls of hypocrisy.    More from CafeMom: Drew Barrymore's Hotel Confession Will Make All Moms Nod in Agreement
    But we're human. We DO change our minds! Sometimes it's because we've grown up and broadened our horizons since we made one particular comment. Other times we're simply acknowledging that it's possible to believe two things at the same time, even two things that may seem diametrically opposed, because we can follow one path primarily and dabble a bit in the other.   A mom can prefer to feed her kids a mostly organic diet and take them to Mickey D's on the rare occasion for a treat. An adult can post something in support of a certain political cause on Facebook and still care about other political causes even if he or she doesn't mention those specifically.   And yes, a singer can refuse to wear makeup one day and slather it on the next. And that is totally fine.

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    daddy daughter dance

    How far would you go to make your kid feel better? A single mom in Georgia named Amy Peterson went pretty darn far this week: She drew a fake beard on her face and donned a button-up shirt so she could be her 6-year-old daughter's "male" date to her elementary school's father-daughter dance. But the act that put a big smile on little Gracie's face earned the opposite reaction from the folks at the Henry County school district. 

    Shortly before Amy and Gracie left for the dance, ABC reports that the principal called to say they'd be barred from entering because, well, Amy's not a dad.

    mom draws beard on face for father-daughter dance

    Instead of apologizing for making a 6-year-old miserable, the district's doubling down. Their excuse?

    There are multiple parent engagement events and opportunities to participate with their kids annually at this school in an effort to make that connection and build school spirit.

    Well gee, isn't that nice? There are other things the kid can do, so we're still going to make her feel like crap today. She's separate ... but she's equal. 

    More from CafeMom: Mom Claims Her Son's Applesauce Pouch Was Full of Mold

    Where have we heard that before?

    Father-daughter dances, donuts with dad, muffins with mom ... they're the sort of old-fashioned heteronormative events that have no place in 2017 -- at least not in our public schools. It's not because there's anything wrong with heterosexual married parents, but because they're just a small part of a very big world. Today one in four kids under 18 is being raised in a home without a dad, whether because the child has a single mom or gay moms. Seventeen percent of custodial parents in America are single dads. And more than 115,000 gay couples in America have kids.

    Events designed to include only one parent of a particular sex automatically cut out a huge swath of the kids public schools are designed to serve. And, keep in mind we're not talking about events that are necessary to a child's education. This isn't a geometry lecture or a read-a-thon. Daddy-daughter dances have nothing to do with educating children, and thus could easily be cut or adapted. 

    And while kids certainly do need to learn disappointment in life -- it's part of how they grow -- there's a vast difference between requiring tryouts for the basketball team to encourage kids to practice, or honoring the high honor roll kids with an achievement day to encourage kids to study harder, and dangling an event in front of kids that no matter what they do, they can't ever attend. Kids can't practice or study their way into making their parents different sexes, or getting a deadbeat dad to show up, or having a deceased parent rise from the dead. Nor, frankly, should they feel they have to come up with that "missing" parent. Single and gay parents are every bit as good at raising kids as heterosexual couples.

    More from CafeMom: I Hired a Babysitter Online -- & Then I Found Her Mugshot

    Unfortunately events like the one in Henry County don't just exclude kids like Gracie and make them feel bad. They also send a message to kids who can attend that they're somehow better than those who cannot, creating a system of haves vs. have-nots in public schools. Kids shouldn't have to prove they come from a certain type of family in order to attend a school-sponsored event.

    So long as we continue to separate kids based on these archaic traditions, students are not being treated equally in schools.


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    tweens taking selfies

    There's some good news for all the parents refusing to cave when their middle schooler whines, "But alllllll the other kids are allowed to be on Instagram!" More experts have come out to warn parents that tweens really don't belong on social media.

    If you're already firm on your decision to keep your kid off social media, the advice from Melanie Hempe, the founder of Families Managing Media, that's getting a lot of attention this week probably won't surprise you.

    Hempe warns that young brains aren't yet ready to juggle the distractions of social media, and they need to be broken into tech slowly to teach them responsible means to use it. Without good Internet usage habits, kids are at risk for social media addiction -- it's not unlike video gaming in that aspect.

    Hence the warning to delay, delay, delay when it comes to giving kids access. 

    More From CafeMom: Daddy-Daughter Dances Have No Place in 2017

    "The longer parents delay access, the more time the child will have to mature so that he or she can use technology more wisely as a young adult," Hempe says in a guest post on Psychology Today. "Delaying access also puts a greater importance on and encourages personal authentic relationships and experiences to develop first."

    Good advice for parents on the fence. And for folks who are already employing that tactic, it's a nice bit of support in the face of increasing pressure to get kids online. 

    I'm used to my tween's telling me I should let her do something because "all the other kids are doing it." It's what kids do. But I never expected to hear that same line from the parents of other middle schoolers ... and over social media, no less. 

    I've said no to social accounts for my daughter not because I have anything against social media -- it's been a crucial piece of my job for years -- but because the rules clearly state no kids under 13. If I let her break that rule, I set a precedent ... what other rules can she ignore?  

    But at 11, nearly 12, she's one of a dwindling number of kids in her grade who aren't on some form of social media. Some of her classmates have even been bold enough to attempt friending me (which I typically decline ... I'd prefer to avoid being the one who accidentally said something naughty in front of an 11-year-old). And some of their parents have tried to school me on my -- in their eyes -- draconian social media rules. The most common accusation? I'm holding her back socially because all the other kids use it.

    More from CafeMom: Mom's Joyful Photos Celebrate Every Person Who Helped Her Adopt This Little Girl

    If I'm being honest, I have to admit they've made me question my own parenting a time or two. Does she really need to be on social media now? Am I really shortchanging her? Then I think about all the kids out there who don't have Internet access at all (because, yes, this is a very first world problem, folks), and I calm myself down immediately. 

    Expert commentary like this only further boosts my confidence. My tween will be allowed on social media soon enough, allowed to access a world where many kids find friends and have countless positive experiences. I'm a firm believer in using the Internet to expand horizons, and social media can do that for our kids. But for now, I'm happy to take this expert's advice and delay, delay, delay.


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    single dad daughter It's the sort of story that has folks everywhere pretending they've got a bit of dirt in their eyes: A photographer from Lexington, Kentucky, named Tiana Sheehan recently shared a tribute with the Love What Matters Facebook page, thanking the man who raised her on his own after her mom died. In it, Sheehan explains what it's like to learn to shave your legs as a young girl with a single dad trying to make sense of how it all works. 

    "I'll never forget the look on my dad's face when I told him I wanted to shave my legs," Sheehan shared in the now viral post. "It was the summer after mom died and some of the girls I went to summer camp with started teasing me about my hairy legs. I remember coming up to dad and being so embarrassed to ask him for help, but man, did he handle it like a champ! For a moment he put his head down; and then he turned the TV off, took me into the bathroom, gave me a new blade on his razor, gave me his shaving cream, and taught me how to shave my legs."

    More from CafeMom: Yep, Men Need to Pay for Prenatal Care -- Let Us Break It Down for You

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how parenting is done! 

    As Sheehan explains, "My dad handled everything: periods, shaving, broken hearts, catty girlfriends--you name it and my dad took it like a champ. Dad, I know I haven't said it enough, so here's a big public THANK YOU for never, ever, ever being too much of a man to be my mom."

    woman's tribute to single dad

    You've got something in your eye now too, don't you? 

    The tribute is absolutely lovely, but there's been something equally heartwarming that's come out of it: In the days since the tribute was posted on the Facebook page, the comment thread has been filled with stories from single parents (both moms and dads) and folks raised by single parents, again both sons and daughters, who have been touched by the story. 

    More from CafeMom: Teen Gives $500K Lottery Win to His Parents for Reason That'll Make You Smile

    Take this comment from another daughter of a single dad:

    single dad

    Or this one from a single mother of boys: 

    single mom

    Others, meanwhile, couldn't help but comment on what a great job this dad has done raising his daughter: 

    single dad

    There are hundreds more like them -- more than 700 in total -- and the story's been shared more than 1,000 times already.  

    Considering the US Census estimates there are some 12 million single parent families in America, it's hardly a surprise that this one is stirring up a lot of emotions ... and bringing on a lot of tears today. Sheehan's dad is one of literally millions who carry a double load day in and day out when their kids need it the most.

    More from CafeMom: This Grandpa's Birthday Gift to His Granddaughter Is Really a Gift to All of Us

    And while we should all salute them, let's face it, there's nothing like a kid turning around and saying "I get it; you sacrificed for me, and I want to thank you" for it to really hit home how amazing these parents are doing. 


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    June Shannon
    Well, America, it happened. Mama June Shannon, former star of Honey Boo Boo turned star of Mama June: Hot or Not, followed through on her plans to go through a series of post-weight loss surgeries and "reveal" herself to the whole world. After undergoing a gastric sleeve surgery to help her in her weight loss journey, she underwent extra surgeries (partially on camera) to turn herself into the June she wants to present to the world. 

    It happened in front of a slew of cameras, to a woman who was -- if nothing else -- torn about what she was doing. 

    June chose a gastric sleeve, which will make the stomach smaller and reduce the hunger sensation, but it's no easy out. Nor were the surgeries seen on the much touted "reveal" episode. As she got her "turkey neck" (her words) and "bat wings" (again, her words) removed, June was clearly dealing with serious pain both physically and emotionally. 

    mama june before and after

    There's no question she's lost weight. That's a statement of fact. Nor is that something to be scoffed at. Mama June should be lauded in light of her hard work. 

    If you're one of -- let's be honest -- millions of Americans who has tried a weight loss regimen over the years, you know it's not easy. Whether you're trying to get back to your pre-baby weight, trying to get to an ideal you've never seen before or trying to be someone you were once and aren't sure you can be again, weight loss battles are as all-American as apple pie. Hundreds of thousands of us embark on diets every year.

    More From CafeMom: 15 Celebs Who Got Refreshingly Real About Their Diet & Exercise Routines

    Gastric sleeves and other weight loss surgeries carry with them an "easy out" myth, but there's nothing "easy" about being cut open and the resulting healing process. Nor is it "easy" to adjust your body to a brand new lifestyle, one that carries risks of embolism, gallstones, and other serious health conditions if you don't follow the doctor's orders to constrict your diet.  

    Regardless of weight loss method, when a woman (or a man) says "I'm not comfortable in my body," it behooves us all to say, "OK, we're listening." It's not OK to say "this is what you should do about it." Instead we should say "OK, so what do YOU want to do?

    More From CafeMom: 5 Questions for Kristen Bell -- She Totally Gets Our Motherhood Dilemmas

    But with Mama June ... and countless celebrities ... the message has traditionally been less "what do you feel?" and more "you need to fix this." So long as they're in the public eye, they're being told they need to make the public happy, and that means looking like the public wants them to look.

    This is the obvious problem with Mama June: Hot or Not. It's not for us to say whether the matriarch of a family should or should not decide to adopt a healthier lifestyle. We all know we need to choose the kale over the Chips Ahoy. All of us. But we're not her. 

    If June wants to go the protein and brisk walks route, that's awesome. Our bodies. Ourselves. Our futures. Her body. Herself. Her future. 

    But we have spent a lot of time as a society blathering on about what we think of people we see on magazine covers, all the while we're comfortably ensconced on our couches. We spend a whole lot of time focused on everyone else, and that has serious repercussions for quasi celebrities like June ... and also for our friends and family. If we as a society can't wait to tune in to see a surgeon slice off a woman's "turkey neck" (again, her words), what does that say about us? That we care more about what is below the mouth than the words that come out of it? That we are focused more on the looks of a person than their soul? 

    More From CafeMom: 17 Literal Girl Bosses From TV Shows That Prove Women Rule

    Even June's family members were concerned about the much hyped reveal, and the changes it would represent to her body ... with Alana (aka Honey Boo Boo) noting said "turkey neck" was something she liked to cuddle pre-surgery.  The message to her daughters is pretty clear -- Mama's worth to the TV cameras is in the weight she loses. The name of the show alone is disheartening. Whether some people find Mama June "hot or not," is irrelevant. She's a person. A daughter. A mom. Someone people love and adore. That should be enough, right? 

    There's plenty of room to support a friend or family member in their right for better health without telling her what she needs to do to achieve the "hot" label.


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    David Beckham Brooklyn Beckham
    Today in not sure how to feel about this news, David Beckham, one time sexiest man in the world, now has a kid old enough to get a tattoo legally. Brooklyn Beckham turned 18 in early March, and Becks' and Posh Spice's son is already taking after his dad in the body ink department ... literally. 

    Not only did he turn to his dad's tattoo artist to get the work done, but the teenager went for exactly the same tattoo his dad sports on his torso, although Brooklyn opted to have the image of a Native American man wearing a traditional headdress added to his forearm. As he said in one of the captions of the process on Instagram, it's "just like dads [sic]."

    More From CafeMom: 20 Sexy-as-Hell Sternum Tattoos

    Brooklyn Beckham arm tattoo

    Considering Becks' first taste of ink came when he got his eldest son's name and birth year added to his lower back, it seems only fitting that Brooklyn would honor his dad with his first art. But let's face it ... not a lot of teenagers are thinking of their parents when they decide to get a tattoo. Well, maybe they are, but it's usually more in the "Uh oh, what's Mom/Dad going to say when the find out?" vein rather than finding a way to pay true tribute to their parents. 

    [code]

    Honoured to have my first tattoo done by dads friend Mark Mahoney

    A post shared by bb (@brooklynbeckham) on

    [/code]

    More From CafeMom: 20 Tiny but Incredible Behind-the-Ear Tattoos

    This isn't the first time Brooklyn's taken a page out of his dad's stylebook. Despite being at an age when kids tend to run from anything associated with their parents, the teen's been spotted wearing dad's clothes in the past and rocking a similar hairstyle.  

    Now he's gone for something a little more permanent, another sweet sign that the soccer player has done a few things right as a dad, enough that his relationship with his teenage son appears to be the envy of many a parent and teenager around the world. 

    The teen is taking some heat for the choice, with some folks pointing out that the Native American imagery amounts to cultural appropriation as the Beckhams are not Native American. It's certainly not something to gloss over, but there's no telling whether Brooklyn, who isn't American and is still just a kid, knew it could be controversial. If he didn't, here's hoping he learns something from the comments. 

    And he's got plenty of other ink on Dad's body to choose from for tattoo number two! 


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    birth photo

    The umbilical cord is something women carry around for months and never really get to know -- after all, it's cut and discarded shortly after a baby's born. But the stretchy conduit that links a growing baby to the placenta is quite literally the cord of life. Without it, babies wouldn't get what they need to grow and thrive. 

    Fortunately birth photographers tend to capture images of the cord so Mom can get a look-see at the link that's been keeping baby alive all those months during pregnancy. Here are some of their most amazing captures -- guaranteed to having you seeing these incredible, life-giving elements through new eyes. 


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    baby feet

    When new babies come into this world, we tend to wrap them up tightly in a swaddle, hiding their cute little feet and hands from the world. The swaddle's supposed to help them feel safe and secure, the way they did in the womb. But if you've ever wanted to sneak a little foot or two out of the blankets because they're just so cute, you're in luck! Birth photographers love baby feet just as much as you do! 

    They've shared some of their favorite images of sweet little baby feet! Are you ready to squee? 


    0 0

    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Ivanka Trump
    Ivanka Trump may be one of the most powerful women in the world right now. But she's not exactly acting like it. Before you snort and roll your eyes, yes, she's now officially part of the administration with a job in the White House as adviser to the president. But the first daughter wasn't exactly acting powerful when she appeared on CBS News in her first interview since becoming assistant to the president and tried to answer critics' claims that she's complicit in her father's activities in the White House. 

    Her answer was straight out of the "my dad calls the shots" playbook.

    The president's eldest daughter told Gayle King, "I would say not to conflate lack of public denouncement with silence. I think there are multiple ways to have your voice heard .... where I disagree with my father, he knows it. And I express myself with total candor. Where I agree, I fully lean in and support the agenda and hope that I can be an asset to him and make a positive impact."

    More from CafeMom: These Moms Are So Done With Getting Screwed Over at Work

    At the outset it may sound like she's saying she's just keeping the griping in the family. But then Ivanka added this: 

    "For me, this isn't about promoting my viewpoints. I wasn't elected by the American people to be president. My father is going to do a tremendous job. And I want to help him do that."

    She's right. She wasn't elected to be president. 

    She is an American citizen, and it's her father who has taken an oath to serve. It's now his job to work for all Americans, and that includes his daughter. He's still her father, of course, and that alone is reason enough for her speak up -- loudly.

    Our parents don't get a pass on being called to the mat if they're acting inappropriately. Calling on them to correct their behavior is our part of the social contract. 

    But for Ivanka, this goes one step farther. If she's not with her father when it comes to budget cuts that will decimate the poor, not with her father when it comes to travel bans that reek of bigotry and intolerance, not with her father when it comes to choosing an education secretary whose policies could have devastating impacts on millions of American children, then she has a right granted to her by our very government to tell him he's wrong and demand he step up and fly right. 

    After all, she's an American citizen. He's the American president. She wasn't elected, but she elected him (presumably, anyway). 

    More from CafeMom: 10 States Women Should Move To -- & 10 We Should Run From

    Speaking out against his callous disregard for women and other causes she professes to hold dear is her right. And unlike everyday Americans who would have to crash a Fox News segment for the slim chance of catching the president's attention, Ivanka Trump has the unique position of being right at the center of it all. She's a citizen who can speak her mind directly into the president's ear. 

    It's literally her job to do so now as a member of the White House staff

    So yes, she's complicit.

    She's complicit as a woman who notes on her own Twitter account in observance of Equal Pay Day that she believes women deserve equal pay for equal work -- and yet doesn't use her power to hold accountable a man who works for her, a man who this week canceled an executive order drafted by his predecessor to protect thousands of workers. 

    She's complicit as a woman who tweets her dismay over opioid addiction rates in America, but professes to be in full support of a president whose health care plans would decimate Medicaid expansion, and with it the majority of addiction treatment programs in this country. 

    More From CafeMom: Yep, Men Need to Pay for Prenatal Care -- Let Us Break It Down For You

    She's complicit as a woman who has literally said "I want to help" with the president's current agenda rather than doing what is in her power to do: standing up and speaking for those who can't stand up and speak for themselves. 

    And considering her father gave her a job in his White House, it would stand to reason that he trusts her counsel ... if she speaks, it would probably behoove him to listen. 


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    x-ray of choking child
    Finlee And Me/Facebook

    Any parent who's spent time painstakingly slicing grape and cherry tomatoes in half to keep a preschooler safe knows some of the most popular finger foods for kids can easily be choking hazards. It's why we cut them, after all. But an x-ray of just what can happen when a grape gets lodged in a child's throat has gone viral this week and carries with it an extra warning: Choking hazards aren't just a concern for the toddler set. 

    Maybe that sounds obvious, but most warnings regarding choking list items as "not for children 3 and under." And by age 5, when we're sending them off to kindergarten without us, most parents are breathing a whole lot easier. 

    More from CafeMom: Pregnant Woman's Complaint About Itchy Skin Saved Her Baby's Life

    Which is why this x-ray image shared by an Australian mom is getting so much attention:

    xray grape lodged in child's thrat

    The image shows the throat of a 5-year-old. Fortunately the little boy is okay after an operation to remove the grape from where it was lodged. 

    His plight serves as a good warning to parents everywhere that it's not helicoptering your kids to be wary of choking issues beyond the preschool age. As the mom who shared this photo wrote in her post, "When in doubt, just cut the damn grapes, baby tomatoes, etc."

    According to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates, more than 17,000 kids 14 and younger end up in the emergency room annually because of a choking-related episode. That number doesn't include incidents where a child choked due to smoke inhalation, holding their breath, swallowing vomit, or strangulation. In addition to the risk of death, the CDC's warning about choking hazards also reminds parents that choking incidents put kids at a heightened risk for infection in the respiratory tract and complications associated with lack of oxygen from airway obstruction, including permanent brain damage and death.

    So whether you're taking the time to cut items like grapes and hot dogs down, or just reminding your kids to chew things thoroughly before they swallow, you could literally be saving your child's life. 

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    It's also not a bad idea to sit your kids down and demonstrate the universal sign for choking -- holding both hands at the neck, one over the other -- so they know how to communicate that they're in distress if something does happen. Because all it takes is one piece of fruit swallowed in haste while laughing at a buddy at lunchtime, and your kiddo could be in trouble. Knowing what to do will help them help themselves. 


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    placenta
    iStock.com/Noctiluxx

    The placenta used to be an afterthought of birth, the extra bit pushed (or pulled!) out after the baby's arrival. These days, however, moms have big plans for their afterbirth, whether they're sucking down placenta smoothies through a straw like Girls' Gaby Hoffmann or popping placenta pills like Kourtney Kardashian. But you don't have to be a celebrity mama to make good use of that extra organ you grew during pregnancy ... nor do you have to eat it. In fact, a growing number of outlets would prefer you donate your placenta instead. 

    Yes, donate it. 

    Although it may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words "organ donor," the placenta is technically an endocrine organ grown during pregnancy. It produces hormones that affect both mom and baby, and it's vital for fetal survival. But unlike most organs, its usefulness is short-lived. Moms can't hang on to the placenta for another pregnancy, so if she doesn't want to keep it for eating (aka placentophagy), burial, or another placenta tradition, most hospitals will simply dump the placenta in with other medical waste. 

    More from CafeMom: Muddy Maternity Shoot Embraces the Beautiful Mess That Is Motherhood

    But Sarah Diina, director of marketing and development for Unyts, a nonprofit organ, eye, tissue, and community blood center in western New York, says that "waste" is actually a valuable medical resource. 

    "Tissues found in the placenta have the potential to be used as medical aids," Diina explains. "The amnion, the innermost layer of the placenta, is made up of a special combination of cells which makes it unique in the human body. This membrane is comprised of cells whose properties allow it to aid in the healing process of the human body.

    "Each donated placenta provides between 12 and 100 different amnion grafts that can be produced for transplantation, resulting in up to 100 lives that can be enhanced or saved," Diina continues. 

    This isn't new science. 

    Amnion and chorion -- another of the membranes that make up the placenta -- have been used to treat wounds since the early 1900s, with doctors turning to amnion specifically in the '50s and '60s as a skin substitute for burn treatment. Since 2004, processed amniotic membrane from birth tissue donation has become recognized as an effective treatment for ophthalmic, diabetic, burn, anti-adhesion, orthopedic, nerve, and tendon wound repair.

    More from CafeMom: 10 Amazing Things About Your Placenta

    These days amnion is also used in a wide range of ocular and dental surgical procedures, as well as urological and neurological reconstructive procedures, Diina says, and it's used in combination with skin grafts for burn victims and on difficult-to-heal wounds such as diabetic foot and leg ulcers. Amnion can reduce pain, inflammation, and scar tissue while also speeding up the recovery process.

    Placenta donation is free for the donor, and the placenta isn't touched until baby's safely in the world, so there's no risk to mom or baby, Diina says. 

    So what's the catch?

    Moms need to undergo blood tests to ensure they're healthy and won't pass any diseases via the placenta. They also need to deliver via C-section. This isn't because of any bias toward vaginal birth, Diina says. It's just the way the process works. 

    "The recovery needs to take place in a sterile environment with staff from Unyts on hand," she notes. 

    More from CafeMom: 15 Weirdest Things Parents Have Seen in Their Baby's Sonogram

    In other words, donations do need to be pre-scheduled. It's recommended you talk to your ob-gyn or midwife before your birth. They can put you in contact with an organ bank in your area, or you can check out the US Department of Health and Human Services list of organ procurement organizations around the country to find one near you. 

    "While moms are able to cherish the miracle of their new baby, transplant recipients are able to cherish the miracle of healing through the generous decision of the mom to donate her birth tissues," Diina says. 


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