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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.

    boxed mac and cheese

    It's a staple in many a mom's pantry, but the boxed mac and cheese is under the microscope this week thanks to a report from the Coalition For Safer Food Processing and Packaging. Funded by a number of watchdog groups, the study released this week claims most macaroni and cheese mixes with powdered cheese contain dangerous amounts of phthalates, a chemical that's been linked in the past to hormone disruption and cancer. 

    So what's the deal?

    Scientists in Belgium tested 51 different cheese products available for sale in the US, and say they detected phthalates in all but one of the samples. The highest concentrations of the chemical were found in the cheese powder in 10 different boxed mac and cheese mixes, including ones with an organic label. Specifically, they say the average total concentration of phthalates in macaroni and cheese powder was "more than four times higher than in natural cheese."

    More from CafeMom: I Used to Be a Judgy Mom -- Here's Why I Stopped

    Before parents panic, it's important to note that food manufacturers aren't mixing chemicals into our kids' favorite dinner -- at least not phthalates. The substances are used in the packaging, not in the actual cheese powder, according to FDA. 

    Phthatlates, which are also found in everything from nail polish to soap to raincoats, have been deemed safe for food packaging -- at certain levels -- by the FDA. 

    "The substances in food contact materials may migrate at low levels when the materials come into contact with food," FDA Spokeswoman Megan McSeveney told CafeMom. "The FDA regulates all substances in food contact materials that are reasonably expected to migrate into food based on their intended use. This includes the use of some phthalates in food packaging." 

    McSeveney said the FDA uses scientific data to determine whether or not a substance that will come in contact with food is authorized for use. As yet, phthalates are allowed. 

    However, that doesn't mean things will always be this way. The FDA has received a submission -- an official form of a petition -- from the Environmental Defense Fund and a group of other agencies that called for the removal of phthalates from all food packaging. The agency sent back issues with the submission to the petitioners, so review of the request is on hold. 

    McSeveney says the FDA does continously review food additives and scientific findings. 

    More from CafeMom: 

    "The FDA’s safety evaluations generally focus on dietary exposure to the food contact substance, as well as available toxicity information on the substance, in order to determine if the exposure from the intended use is safe," she notes. "The FDA does not stop evaluating available information on a food additive once it is approved for use. The FDA continues to examine data on these compounds as it becomes available."

    In other words, the FDA's current stance: your kids' mac and cheese is OK. But they're keeping an eye on the science. 


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.


    All parents think their child is a miracle, but the mom and dad of toddler Eden Carlson have science backing them up on that. Eden suffered severe brain damage after she drowned in the family swimming pool in 2016, ultimately spending about 15 minutes submerged underwater. But doctors have been able to do the unthinkable for the Carlson family: They've reversed Eden's brain damage.

    A month after her accident, Eden was unresponsive to stimuli, and her body was constantly squirming. She was unable to do even simple toddler tasks, like walking or talking. But 55 days after her accident, doctors started giving Eden normobaric oxygen treatments, in which levels of oxygen are the same as at sea level. After 45 days, Eden seemed more alert and was able to move her limbs. Her family traveled to New Orleans for he next phase of treatment, where she went into a hyperbaric chamber for 45 minutes per day, five days a week, for 39 sessions.

    More from CafeMom: 4-Year-Old Dies of E. Coli & a Petting Zoo Is Being Investigated

    Researchers at the LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine and the University of North Dakota School of Medicine have released information about their unique treatments, and the results are nothing short of a miracle: Brain scans have shown that the gray matter in Eden's brain -- which showed significant damage after she was rushed to the hospital -- now show an "almost complete reversal" of the damage. Eden has regained her speech, and her motor function is almost back to its pre-drowning level. She's even up and walking! 

    The now-3-year-old Eden and her miraculous recovery are the subject of a paper in a medical journal, and her parents are hopeful that she's on the way back to being just like the other kids her age. 

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    The medical breakthrough isn't just big for the Carlsons. Unintentional drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death in the US, and every day 10 people die from it. One in five drowning victims is a kid 14 or younger. 

    More from CafeMom: This Is Why You Should Never Kiss a Newborn

    Even those who survive often have serious consequences -- the CDC estimates 50 percent of drowning victims who land in the ER require hospitalization or transfer for additional care. The brain damage caused by drowning has been linked to long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning impairments, and permanent loss of basic functioning.

    Drowning is such a major fear for parents because it can happen to anyone, and it can happen incredibly quickly -- almost literally in the blink of an eye. 

    But Eden's case could mean big things for the future of all drowning victims, especially kids, as doctors say it was Eden's still-developing brain that helped them in helping her.


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Jackson Smith peanut allergy cure

    It's the kind of status update parents of kids with food allergies -- especially peanut allergies -- dream of posting. An Illinois mom has secured viral status with photos of her once seriously allergic son after eating not one, not two, not even three, but 24 peanuts! As Sarah Wynia Smith crowed in her Facebook post, "He scarfed down two handfuls of his allergen. And he liked it!"

    peanut allergy

    Smith is careful not to call this a cure, but she is not afraid to shout from the rooftops about son Jackson's success with what she dubs an "up-and-coming food allergy desensitization treatment program" called oral immunotherapy. In laymen's terms, that means Smith's son spent months eating small but increasing amounts of peanuts, carefully watched by doctors as they slowly exposed him to the very thing that previously sent the little guy into anaphylactic shock. 

    More from CafeMom: 

    Like an estimated 15 million Americans, Jackson has a food allergy, but his is particularly severe ... and affected everything about his life. 

    As his mom explains on Facebook, "I felt trapped and terrified almost constantly. He too was starting to get anxious about food that wasn’t safe. Any food with a trace of peanut in it could have literally killed him. This led to our family avoiding not only restaurants that served anything with peanuts (I know how “careful” food service is about cross-contamination), but things like baseball games, birthday parties, wedding cakes, potlucks. It was all just too anxiety-provoking for the benefits to outweigh the negatives to attending such things. It was very socially isolating in a way that I never truly appreciated until managing a food allergy."

    These days, that weight is lifted off of the Smith family, and immunotherapy like Jackson's is making major changes for a lot of other families too. 

    On study supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences found that as many as 80 percent of kids with peanut allergies were able to incorporate peanut-containing foods into their diets after receiving peanut oral immunotherapy. And doctors have even developed a peanut patch to help expose kids little by little. 

    More from CafeMom: Toddler Who Drowned for 15 Minutes Fully Recovers After Cutting-Edge Treatment

    It's not easy to have a kid with food allergies. There are the parents who throw up their arms and think their kid's right to a PB&J is more important than another child's right to a safe classroom. And then there are the unwitting kids who pass on an allergen because they just down know any better. An estimated 40 percent of kids with food allergies have experienced a severe allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis, according to the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) non-profit.

    That's why stories like Jackson's are so important. They show that there is hope for kids like him, hope that one day they can go out and do what their peers do without fearing someone is eating some Reese's Pieces that could threaten their life. 


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.


    Because the existence of items labeled "reduced fat potato chips" and "sexy maternity wear" weren't enough to make the world explode, the folks behind Lunchables are now bringing us a new headscratcher. Behold two words you never ever thought you would see put together: Organic Lunchables.

    Yes. Your 80s childhood memories have just been desecrated. We'll allow you a moment of silence for your neon-coateed memories.

    But hey, now you can be that mom who gives her kids Lunchables AND the mom who tells the world her little darlings ONLY eat organic! It's a miracle!

    More From CafeMom: 

    Lunchables adding an organic option isn't exactly bad news. It's always great for parents to have quick and easy options for those days when they have just had it up to HERE. And if that quick and easy option is slightly healthier -- albeit expected to be priced about $2 more than the regular kind at $2.99 vs. the usual $1 -- that's good for all involved. 

    Well ... most involved, anyway. Some parents on social media are not exactly impressed with this move.

    [code]

    pic.twitter.com/NANfpwOWLy

    — janel b (@JanelBubba) July 25, 2017
    [/code]

    lunchables comment


    At the end of the day, it seems Lunchables are still Lunchables ... even if your kid's smothering their organic cracker in organic pizza sauce and topping it off with organic cheese. 

    More From CafeMom: Walmart Responds to Rumors That There's Lead in These Popular Kids' Shoes

    lunchables comment


    If you're riding that same "no way, no organic for me, thanks" train, don't worry.

    The old versions are still sticking around for the organic-scmorganic moms out there. (You know who you are, ladies, and there's no shame in giving in when your kids beg for a special treat either ... although whether they'll still pull out the pouty lip for a "certified organic option that's free of artificial preservatives, ingredients, flavors, and colors" remains to be seen.)

    On the other hand, if you're intrigued at the chance to go easy and organic on school lunch at the same time, you may just have the refrigerated section at the grocery store to yourself come August when the organic Lunchables hit the shelves.


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    sperm
    iStock.com/Raycat

    If it feels like there are a lot more couples in your life who are struggling with infertility, you're not imaging things. And from the looks of a new study on men's sperm counts around the world, things are only going to get harder. Sperm is disappearing. Literally.

    The study, published in the most recent edition of the medical journal Human Reproduction Update, says sperm counts are down by as much as 59 percent for men in North America since 1973.

    More from CafeMom: Here's Why You Shouldn't Freak Out About the CDC's New Breast Pump Cleaning Guidelines

    The researchers from Hebrew University and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City don't have a definitive reason for the case of the missing sperm, nor was that the aim of their study. But they note a concern that lifestyle issues play a major role, including men's diets and whether or not they smoke.

    The other major hypothesis from scientists? Men's sperm counts are precipitously dropping because chemicals in the environment are playing a devastating role ... in particular, prenatal chemical exposure and adult pesticide exposure.

    In a statement released to the press, Dr. Shanna H. Swan, a professor in the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, noted, "Decreasing sperm count has been of great concern since it was first reported 25 years ago. This definitive study shows, for the first time, that this decline is strong and continuing. The fact that the decline is seen in Western countries strongly suggests that chemicals in commerce are playing a causal role in this trend." 

    Researchers say this means what moms are exposed to while pregnant could affect their son's sperm counts (and chance at grandchildren) years later. This falls in line with previous warnings that women who smoke during pregnancy can affect their son's future fertility, and those who eat hormone-packed meats can do the same. 

    But it's not all on moms (for once). Those chemicals our partners are being exposed to playing football in the park or eating veggies from the grocery store are also affecting our chances at having kids. 

    More from CafeMom: There Might Be a Pain-Free Alternative to Those Annoying Labor Progress Checks

    And while the study only analyzed data up until 2011, scientists warn this trend is not stopping. At least not until we get these dangerous environmental factors under control.


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    kid helping mom with labor

    When a baby is born, life doesn't just change for the new parents. If there are older kids in the house, a birth changes their entire family dynamic too. It's no wonder an increasing number of parents are opting to invite their older children to take part in the birthing experience, allowing them to welcome their new siblings to the world.

    We asked moms and birth photographers to share some of the most amazing moments of kids helping their moms get through the labor experience. From little doulas to mini midwives, these kids show that birth is truly a family affair.


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    newborn baby

    If you need proof that the human body is amazing, look no further than a recent birth in India. Doctors say a baby was born "pregnant" with his own twin brother. 

    If it sounds like science fiction, it's not. Known as fetus in fetu, and sometimes dubbed as a "parasitic twin," this rare congenital anomaly pops up in the news every once in awhile, when a baby is born with parts of another baby inside them. It only occurs once in about every 500,000 births. 

    Typically it's the baby's own twin who began to develop inside him or her. 

    More from CafeMom: Mom Warns About Sunless Heatstroke After Toddler Won't Wake Up From Her Nap

    pregnant with twin

    Technically, it's not a pregnancy. Not only was this baby a biological boy who did not have a uterus, but typically the second baby or part of one is found in the retroperitoneal area of the body (i.e., inside a part of the abdomen). 

    In the case out of India, doctors noted the in fetu twin during a prenatal scan, then removed it after the baby's birth. The mass had actual bones, arms, legs, and even a brain, although it was not a functional human being. 

    More from CafeMom: Mom Issues a Scary Warning to Parents After 11-Month-Old Falls From 2nd Story Window

    The mom's ob-gyn, Dr. Neena Nichlani, described the situation as a "case of monozygotic twin pregnancy sharing single placenta, where one fetus wraps itself around and envelops the other and robs the host of its nutrition." 

    "It can be implanted in skull, abdomen, or tail bone of the host," Nichlani told the media. "Sometimes it can also lead to the death of the host because both get nutrition from a single cord." 

    Fortunately, this little guy is going to be okay, although he'll have quite the story to tell for the rest of his life!


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    crying boy toddler porch

    Toddlers throw tantrums. And just about every parenting expert out there will reassure moms that it's typical toddler behavior. But when one California mom dealt with her toddler's tantrum by placing him on the family patio -- just outside an open window where she stood watching his meltdown -- she had no idea she'd be setting off a months-long battle with CPS ... or find herself arrested. 

    The mom, whose name was changed to Mary (no last name) in an interview with Mom.me to protect her family's identity, was apparently charged with misdemeanor child neglect, and CPS took both her toddler and infant away for months on end. Mary was breastfeeding, but said she wasn't allowed to pass on milk to her infant at first, and her kids ended up sick in foster care. A friend was finally able to take temporary custody, but Mary and her husband were only allowed to see their kids with supervision for months. 

    More from CafeMom: Babies With Down Syndrome Who Were Born 3 Days in a Row Reunite for the Most Adorable Cake Smash

    All this because a mom put her 2-year-old in time-out? A 2-year-old who was stealing his brother's toys and threw a hissy fit when his mom told him to stop?   
    The charges were all eventually dropped, and the kids were returned to their parents.    But as Mary told Mom.me:   "When this whole thing started, we kept on telling ourselves that we are glad there are good people protecting kids. But the longer it dragged on, the more we resented that everyone wasted time while other kids were in real danger." It's a real issue that can't be overstated. Sometimes kids are in real danger, and a call to CPS is warranted. No child should be left alone to suffer because someone is afraid to be that person who made the call.    But tantrums happen. And they tend to get worse when a kid is told no -- as Mary's child was -- and when he's disciplined, even via a simple time-out on the family patio under mom's watchful eye. This is part of typical child development, and it's important to assess the difference between "kid freaking out" and "kid being hurt."   More from CafeMom: This Mom's Sweary Surprise Pregnancy Announcement Is Winning the Internet  When in doubt, check in. Pop over to the house where the kid is carrying on like someone just stole his puppy, and see if he's being abused or if he's just very cranky that someone won't let him have his way.    Not taking the time to know the difference can turn lives upside down. 

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Robbie Tripp and wife

    A 26-year-old "entrepreneur" named Robbie Tripp wants the world to know that he is a body-positive feminist. His proof? An
    open letter to and photos of his wife, Sarah Tripp, which feature "declarations of love," like, "For me, there is nothing sexier than this woman right here: thick thighs, big booty, cute little side roll, etc."


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

     

    breast cancer mom gives birth

    Maria Crider was 11 weeks pregnant when she found the lump in her breast -- but her doctor was sure she was fine. "It could be a number of things. Cancer at your age is unlikely," he told the Orlando, Florida, mom. Unlikely didn't mean impossible. In fact, while cancer during pregnancy is uncommon, breast cancer is one of the most likely to pop up during pregnancy.

    Three weeks later, Crider got the diagnosis. She was 27, pregnant with her third child, and facing triple negative breast cancer, a form of the cancer that affects about 10 to 20 percent of all breast cancer sufferers and is most likely to show up in younger women.

    Crider spoke with CafeMom about her pregnancy and her battle with cancer, and her photographer, Bonnie Hussey, shared the moving photos of Crider giving birth to baby Logan and her fight to breastfeed her baby boy. 


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    target mom photo shoot

    Moms love Target. It's one of the universal truths that binds us together, along with yoga pants and secretly hiding in the bathroom to eat a chocolate bar once in a while so the kids don't see. And one Missouri mom has taken maternal worship of the big red bull's-eye to the next level. Page Miller scooped up daughter Avery, grabbed her photographer friend Heather Pippin of Inspired by a True Story Photography ... and set out for a maternity shoot that is pure mom goals.


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    father disowns white supremacist son
    Pearce Tefft/Facebook

    Photos of the events that unfolded at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend have rocked the world. But for one North Dakota dad, the photos were personal. Spotted among the marchers at the "Unite the Right" march at the University of Virginia was Pearce Tefft's son Peter. And this dad's reaction to that news is going viral.

    What would you do if you found out your child was a white supremacist who proudly calls himself a "pro-white activist" when interviewed by news stations? Who uses phrases like "white genocide"?

    More from CafeMom: Twitter Is Roasting This Man Who Said Parents Aren't Teaching Their Daughters to Say 'No' the 'Right Way'

    This is Peter Tefft:

    [code]

    When we asked other #UniteTheRight attendees about their 'white genocide' claims, some of them responded violently pic.twitter.com/erxgZ3aFG1

    — Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) August 12, 2017
    [/code]

    Some parents might shake their heads and stay silent. But Pearce Tefft has made the brave choice to come forward, to speak out against hate and intolerance ... and to speak out against his own child.

    In a letter in the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, Pearce makes no bones about distancing himself from his child's beliefs:

    "I, along with all of his siblings and his entire family, wish to loudly repudiate my son's vile, hateful and racist rhetoric and actions. We do not know specifically where he learned these beliefs. He did not learn them at home."

    Tefft admits that staying silent in the face of his son's actions in the past was a mistake -- a mistake that he related to the silence of people who allowed the Nazis to take power in Europe in the 1930s. So he's stepping out now, banning Peter from family gatherings and begging his son to "renounce his hateful beliefs and return home." He writes:

    "I have shared my home and hearth with friends and acquaintances of every race, gender and creed. I have taught all of my children that all men and women are created equal. That we must love each other all the same.

    "Evidently Peter has chosen to unlearn these lessons, much to my and his family's heartbreak and distress. We have been silent up until now, but now we see that this was a mistake. It was the silence of good people that allowed the Nazis to flourish the first time around, and it is the silence of good people that is allowing them to flourish now."

    He later adds in his letter, "We do not, never have, and never will, accept his twisted worldview." It's not easy when our kids disappoint us. They are our kids. We love them -- even when their views are diametrically opposed to our own.

    But we need to be wary of giving our kids a pass just because we love them. If we would be angry and horrified at the same actions in someone we didn't raise, then we should be angry and horrified at the actions in our kids.

    More from CafeMom: People Form Human Chain to Rescue Drowning Family at the Beach

    Pearce Tefft is in an unenviable position right now. But the world is depending on parents just like him to speak up, to say something, to tell their kids (yes, even the adult ones) that white supremacy is not and never will be okay.


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    pregnant woman cup and spoon

    The debate over whether or not you can guarantee the gender of your baby has been swirling for decades. Some women swear they've found the secret to conceiving a boy or getting pregnant with a girl based on sex positions, time of the year, and more. If you're skeptical, you're not alone ... but scientists now say there may be a legit way to make sure you welcome a bouncing baby boy in the delivery room: food!

    The secret? Eating bananas. Well, bananas and other foods high in potassium. (And no, this has nothing to do with their phallic shape.)

    More from CafeMom: 

    The study, published by the Royal Society, claims that what a mom eats before conception can affect the gender of her baby. The researchers followed 740 women, who made seven-day food diaries before pregnancy. They found a correlation between high potassium intake and overall high nutrition before conception and a baby's sex.

    Want your next baby to be a boy? Then researchers say you should munch on foods that are packed full of potassium and calorically dense.

    Some great foods that fit the bill?

    Bananas (of course) Sweet potato  Halibut White beans  Plain yogurt

    Surprisingly, researchers also pointed to cereal as a boy-making food. Of course, there's no guarantee that a change in your diet will absolutely have an impact on your future baby's sex, but it couldn't hurt to try.

    You've heard the saying "you are what you eat"? Well, it may actually be that your baby is a product of what you eat.


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.


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

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

    More from CafeMom: 11 Times Kids' Halloween Costumes Were Legitimately Terrifying

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

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

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

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

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

    6. "When my daughter was 3, she had an imaginary friend named Kelly who lived in her closet. Kelly sat in a little rocking chair while she slept, played with her, etc., typical imaginary friend s--t. Anyway, fast-forward two years later, the wife and I are watching the new Amityville (the one with Ryan Reynolds), and our daughter walks out right when dead girl goes all black-eyed. Far from being disturbed, she said, 'That looks like Kelly.' 'Kelly who?' we say. 'You know, the dead girl that lived in my closet.'"

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

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

    More from CafeMom: 21 Creative Halloween Costumes for Babywearing Moms & Dads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    Thanksgiving table

    Happy Thanksgiving! It's that one day of the year when everyone -- even the crankiest of the bunch -- should be sitting down to take stock of the good in life and say thanks. If it were a perfect world, we'd all express our gratitude daily. But it's not always easy to know what to say. Still trying to figure out how to express gratitude over Thanksgiving dinner? Hopefully this will help. We've gathered our favorite quotes and sayings about gratitude and being thankful.

    More from CafeMom: 

    Looking for the right words to express how grateful one is can sometimes be tricky. One wants to be eloquent, but not too formal; speak from the heart, but not be too cheesy. And most of all, we want our loved ones to know how special they are to us and recognize how lucky our lives are. But what is the right thing to say -- what's the right way to express all that?

    We found quotes about gratitude and grace that will give folks the little push they need for inspiration. Consider sending these words to a family member just to let them know that their love means the world. And if it's too hard to say the words, go ahead and send them this slideshow.

    thankful quotes for thanksgiving


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    family celebrating new years eve

    The new year. Could we possible be here already?! I know every year is the same length (except for those pesky leap years), but with each one that passes, they seem to be shorter and shorter. I swear it was January 1 just the other day ... and here we are again. So how to mark the journey into another new year?

    More from CafeMom: Spending New Year's Eve With Kids: Expectation vs. Reality 

    The new year always feels like a hopeful time. A time to start fresh. A time to start anew. A time to resolve to do things better going forward. Maybe it's the year to aim for self acceptance ("flaws" and all), the year to finally look for a job that's a better fit, or the year be more present for the kids. Maybe it's the year to finally accept every "imperfection" for what it is. 

    Of course, it's also a time for reflection. We can't do better unless we look back and learn a few things from our past. What worked and what didn't? What was worth precious time and what wasn't?

    More from CafeMom: How to Fake New Year's Eve for the Kids

    Before we get to far into thinking about what's to come, it seems only appropriate that we step back and look at some of the wise words that have been spoken (or written) about new years past. These quotes are just a little inspiration to kick those resolutions in gear and start the new year off the right way!



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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    crying boy toddler porch

    Toddlers throw tantrums. And just about every parenting expert out there will reassure moms that it's typical toddler behavior. But when one California mom dealt with her toddler's tantrum by placing him on the family patio -- just outside an open window where she stood watching his meltdown -- she had no idea she'd be setting off a months-long battle with CPS ... or find herself arrested. 

    The mom, whose name was changed to Mary (no last name) in an interview with Mom.me to protect her family's identity, was apparently charged with misdemeanor child neglect, and CPS took both her toddler and infant away for months on end. Mary was breastfeeding, but said she wasn't allowed to pass on milk to her infant at first, and her kids ended up sick in foster care. A friend was finally able to take temporary custody, but Mary and her husband were only allowed to see their kids with supervision for months. 

    More from CafeMom: Babies With Down Syndrome Who Were Born 3 Days in a Row Reunite for the Most Adorable Cake Smash

    All this because a mom put her 2-year-old in time-out? A 2-year-old who was stealing his brother's toys and threw a hissy fit when his mom told him to stop?   
    The charges were all eventually dropped, and the kids were returned to their parents.    But as Mary told Mom.me:   "When this whole thing started, we kept on telling ourselves that we are glad there are good people protecting kids. But the longer it dragged on, the more we resented that everyone wasted time while other kids were in real danger." It's a real issue that can't be overstated. Sometimes kids are in real danger, and a call to CPS is warranted. No child should be left alone to suffer because someone is afraid to be that person who made the call.    But tantrums happen. And they tend to get worse when a kid is told no -- as Mary's child was -- and when he's disciplined, even via a simple time-out on the family patio under mom's watchful eye. This is part of typical child development, and it's important to assess the difference between "kid freaking out" and "kid being hurt."   More from CafeMom: This Mom's Sweary Surprise Pregnancy Announcement Is Winning the Internet  When in doubt, check in. Pop over to the house where the kid is carrying on like someone just stole his puppy, and see if he's being abused or if he's just very cranky that someone won't let him have his way.    Not taking the time to know the difference can turn lives upside down. 

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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    tic tac toe valentine card

    Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and these days that means something a little different than it did when most of us were kids. While store-bought cards with characters from books and TV shows used to be the norm, the major trend now is to get more personal and handcraft valentines at home. More and more moms and dads are helping their kids DIY custom cards to hand out to their friends at school, and there sure are some insanely cute ideas out there!

    There are tons of cute card options at the store, since many of the big brands have hopped on the Pinterest train and tried to make their wares look a little more handmade. But for parents who truly want to make their very own cards from scratch, it can hard to narrow down exactly what to do. And it's even harder to keep coming up with unique ideas year after year. Luckily, CafeMom knows the struggle is real, and we're here to help.

    More from CafeMom: Adorable Kids’ Reactions to Valentine’s Day Show the True Meaning of Love

    Here, we've rounded up some of the cutest, cleverest, and most creative DIY valentines from around the Internet. Some include sweets, and some are non-candy treats. But all of them have that little special something that makes them stand out from the rest. Even better -- these simple crafts won't come out looking like a glitter factory exploded next door to the glue factory! They're simple enough that kids can do most of the work (if not all)!



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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    grandparents grandkids

    When NeNe Leakes revealed she's a grandmother to little Bri'asia, she told Ellen DeGeneres she has a "glambaby." So what does that make her? A "Glamma," of course! Think it's only NeNe? Nope. Grandma and Grandpa are soooo '90s! Today's grandkids have moved on big-time -- and there are so many sweet, alternative names they've opted to use for their grandparents. Searching for a perfect name for your kiddo to call your parents or your in-laws? Here's what other families say works for them (and why):

    Grandparents with grandchild


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    Post by Jeanne Sager.

    mom with baby

    If you look the word worrywart up in the dictionary, I'm pretty sure you'll find a picture of a new mom. She'll be unshowered, of course, and ready to tear her greasy hair out of her head. Moms, it's because I've been there that I'm going to offer the following advice: Lighten up! I am coming to you from seven years in your future, and it's with the benefit of that awesome hindsight that I can tell you that you're just wasting your time. Your baby doesn't care about any of it. Just look:


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