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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

    Isabel CelisPicture this. You wake up one morning, and your 6-year-old daughter is not in her bed. You grab the phone and call 911. What is the first thing you say? Do you tell operators that your child is missing? Or do you do what Isabel Celis' dad, Sergio Celis, did? Do you tell the 911 dispatcher that your only daughter has been "abducted"?

    Just a day after the Tucson Police confirmed that the missing 6-year-old's father was barred contact with his sons, police have released the 911 call from the morning little Isa went missing. And folks, it's ... strange.

    If you listen to the tapes, from the get-go, a very calm Sergio Celis announces that his 6-year-old has been abducted. He reels off all of the pertinent details, is very cooperative. But ... again, the only word I have is strange. Take a listen:

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    Maybe it's the difference between a man and a woman, a mother and a father, this particular man and me. But if I walked into my daughter's bedroom tomorrow, saw her bed empty and the screen busted out, I wouldn't be calm. I would hardly be verbal. If I even made it to the phone to call 911 instead of curling into a blubbering mess on the ground, I can only imagine the words I'd use.

    Missing. Gone. Disappeared. WHERE IS SHE?

    People have laughed at ice skater Nancy Kerrigan for screaming "Why me?" over and over after her attack, but I have always identified with her. In times of trauma, that's where I go. I don't decide. I question everything.

    I would want answers, of course. I would want the cops to tell me exactly what had happened and find my baby girl immediately (if not sooner). But I don't think I'd be able to venture into the "abducted" realm until they put me there. Because this is my baby. I'd want to think the best ... even if I was fearing the worst.

    Do the 911 tapes tell us anything? Eh. That's up for cops to decide. But it certainly gives us a lot to think about ... and question.

    Be honest: if you woke up and your child were gone, what's the first thing that would come to mind: missing or "abducted"?

     

    Image via National Center for Missing & Exploited Children


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    tanningIf Tanning Mom -- you know, the woman who allegedly brought her kid into the booth with her to get some concentrated cancer-causing rays sent in her direction -- has you terrified, how about some good news? The latest trend in pre-prom pledges has turned from the standard no sex, no drinking promises to one that should put a sunny smile on your face. Kids are swearing they won't tan before the biggest dance of the year.

    I have one question. Where can I get one of these pledges, and can I make my kid sign it now? OK, I guess that was two questions. But I'm so caught up in the excitement of it all, you'll just have to work with me here.

    Parents need breaks like this. We need kids jumping on board en masse to push our kids to change. We have it hard enough with the actual omnipresent sun threatening to give our kids cancer. The tanning booth is like an evil place on this planet just to spur yet another fight with our teens. I can picture the conversation now:

    "But Susie's mom let's her go to the tanning booth."

    "I'm not Susie's mom. I don't want you to have melanoma before you go to college."

    "You're the meanest mom ever, and I hate you."

    Sound of stomping followed by the door slamming.

    Sigh.

    I remember what it was like to be a teenager with pasty white skin. I was raised in the eighties and nineties, when you weren't having a fun summer if you hadn't spent at least one night with ice on your shoulders or one weekend peeling skin off your best friend's back. Even with a mom who is a nurse and talks up sunscreen like she owns stock in the company, I spent many a day out in the backyard in barely there clothing trying to avoid yet another teenage boy calling me Casper.

    We fought like crazy over that disgusting white stuff she wanted to smear all over my back. And I'm already there with my daughter, having the same fight. Although at 6, my kid is fighting back against the tube of sunscreen more because she wants to get outside NOW, less because she actually digs browner skin ... but I know it's coming.

    The power of a pre-prom anti-tanning pledge isn't simply in keeping kids out of the tanning booths for a few months. It's the power of peer pressure, which -- as little as we like to admit it -- can be much stronger in the teen years than a parent's rules. I'm willing to cede control if it means saving my kid's life ... or keeping her from turning into Tanning Mom.

    What would you do if your kid brought one of these pledges home?

     
     

    Image via Evil Erin/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Lindsay Lohan GleeOh thank goodness. The question Glee fans have been asking pretty much since the show began has been answered in the rare two-hour Props/Nationals episode. You know what I mean. No, not, do they win (although yes, we got that too)?

    The real question for the real Gleeks, who knew they'd convince the likes of judges Lindsay Lohan and Perez Hilton that they rock was simple. Gleeks needed to know: what the heck are the New Directions going to do after Rachel Berry graduates?

    Her name is Tina Cohen Chang. And dang can that girl sing. She can even do Celine Dion!

    In all, it was an episode that was focused on endings. The New Directions finally won that national title. But we also got glimpses of the future. Tina finally got her solos, and be glad that the girl who has spent all that time hovering in the background is a junior. It's thanks to her convincing Rachel to go face-to-face NYADA Judge Carmen Tibideaux that the regular soloist for the New Directions has gotten a second chance at college. And that means Tina's got a second chance at taking the spotlight. So Rachel Berry position has been filled. Phewwww.

    Who's next? How about the brash gay kid? Oh yeah, they filled that hole too.

    The New Directions edged out Vocal Adrenaline for the win at Nationals, and that means a certain boy finding himself by dressing as a woman onstage lost. And Unique, as he calls himself, hinted that he's going to be looking for a new school to attend in the fall. Gee, wonder where that could be, huh? Cough. Cough. Consider him the replacement to Kurt Hummel at McKinley. 

    Which leaves a few holes, I know. And that's what the finale of the season, aka, the tearjerking graduation episode, is sure to give us. At least we've got some of the big mysteries out of the way to make it easier to say goodbye.

    How do you feel about the "replacements" we're being given for some of the key characters we've grown to love? What shoes do you think will be toughest to fill?

     

    Image via Fox


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    beachCan't wait for summer sun? Get in line. But first, the good news ... and um, the bad news. The number of sunscreens that passed the Environmental Working Group's 2012 test is higher than ever before!

    Yay! Do the happy dance! In your bikini! With sunscreen on! Only, you better hope it was one of the one in four that won't end up making you sick.

    Gotcha, didn't I? Things are getting better on the shelves, but they're still not great.

    The EWG, which happens to be the bigwig nonprofit in determining what companies have toxic nasties in their beauty products, say that one in four of more than 800 beach and sport sunscreens passed the test this year. That's good when compared to one in five last year and one in 12 the year before, but it doesn't mean we're in the clear. A fourth of the sunscreens in the test actually had retinyl palmitate or vitamin A in them, a chemical the Food and Drug Administration and National Toxicology Program say heightens your risk of skin cancer. And you don't want to get them started on the hormone-disrupting chemicals and allergy-causing fragrances and what-not and what-have-you.

    More from The Stir: Gel Manicures May Cause Cancer, But I Won't Stop Getting Them

    Talk about your catch-22.

    I put on sunscreen because I don't want to get sick. I put it on because I think I'm doing something GOOD for myself! But the way they tell it, I can be slathering myself up with something that is going to end up making me sick in the end anyway ... so what, exactly, did I win? Here I am looking like Casper, and all I have to show for it is, um, cancer?

    I'm a summer baby, and I love the sun. I can't wait for it to come so I can stop shivering in my hoodies and jeans. But I loathe it too. Because I spend every spring standing in the store trying to figure out what sunscreen isn't going to actually waste my time, or at least trying to remember what is on the EWG "safe" list (thank God for smartphones, I can pull that up anywhere).

    Which worries you more: what's in your sunscreen or what the sun could be doing to your skin?

     

    Image via Ollie Crafoord/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    kidnappingThe last time Loyda Rodriguez saw her daughter, the 2-year-old was being whisked into a taxi cab by a stranger in her native Guatemala. It was 2006, and Anyeli Rodriguez became a missing child, a victim of a kidnapping. But now that she's been located, the Guatemalan mom can't simply get her child back. Because the American parents who adopted her think Anyeli is theirs.

    So who's right? They both are.

    A child's biological parent is a parent. A child's adoptive parent is a parent. There's no clear line in the sand in cases like this. And if there were, it would nullify the whole concept of legal adoption. Biology can't simply trump the love and care that adoptive parents give a child.

    And since 2008, Timothy and Jennifer Monahan have been loving and caring for "their daughter," a little girl ABC News reports they thought they'd legally adopted through an agency here in the United States. They've been her parents for four years! And they don't seem like bad people. Although the adoption is considered illegal in Guatemala because the little girl was kidnapped, Guatemalan officials have reportedly cleared the Monahans of any wrongdoing. The blame rests on the shoulders of the people who stole her.

    But that doesn't mean Anyeli is theirs. Her biological mom is still alive and very much wants her. Loyda is doing everything she can in the courts to get "her" daughter back.

    I don't blame her. I also don't blame the Monahans for holding tight to their little girl. They're both right. If I was on either side, I know I'd be doing everything both sides are doing and then some.

    The sad thing is that either way, innocent people are going to be hurt here. Rip a kid who's been living in America for all these years out of the home she knows best, and drop her in Guatemala, and little Anyeli will have it rough. Not to mention the anguish the Monhans would have to go through. On the other hand, leave her in America, and the little girl may feel the pull of her biological family. And her mom and other relatives will most certainly be in pain. 

    The only choice here, frankly, stinks. These parents need to sit down and do the modern day version of King Solomon's old "cut the baby in half" suggestion. They have to decide what is best for Anyeli, not what's best for either group of adults.

    What would you do in this situation? Could you let go of your child if you knew it was better for them?

     

    Image via MegaBu7/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    prom corsageFire up your DeLoreans. This bit of news will send you hurtling back in time. Two uptight moms were absolutely horrified to see high schoolers "dirty dancing" at their prom. So what's a concerned chaperon to do? They sprayed Lysol all over those grimy grinding girls and guys.

    Way to go ... straight to jail? The mothers, who were also caught screaming "slut" and "whore" at the girls -- because dagnabit those harlots are leading those good boys down a path of no return -- are now facing all sorts of legal issues. Obviously their method of dealing with the "problem" was all kinds of crazy. But is dirty dancing really a problem anyway?

    These Colorado moms' methods aren't the only thing that stink here. Freaking out at kids who dirty dance is just plain silly ... no matter how you do it.

    Scientists have yet to determine some intrinsic link between dirty dancing and coitus. In fact, if some of these parents used a little common sense, they'd note that kids dirty dancing in the middle of the high school gymnasium are actually too busy to find a quiet backroad to go parking. You got that? Dirty dancing could actually prevent sexual activity!

    In real life, dirty dancing kids are just that. They're kids getting into the music and using their bodies to show it. And sure, there may be some things popping inside those boys' pants, but it's nothing that doesn't happen in the middle of a classroom when a teenage guy has a particularly naughty thought cross his mind. Ever notice there comes an age when boys suddenly need to carry their bookbags around in the FRONT of their bodies, specifically over the pelvic area? That has nothing to do with dancing, y'all!

    Would you let your kid dirty dance at the prom?

     

    Image via Capeside/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Jay-Z Beyonce Blue IvyStay-at-home dads, listen up. I know you've had it tough. But you are about to get the shot of arm you've been waiting for. Jay-Z has announced he's giving up the lucrative music career and trying the stay-at-home parent thing with Blue Ivy.

    Got that America? Manly rap mogul Mr. J-Hova himself is secure enough to admit to the world that he doesn't WANT to be away from his little girl right now. He doesn't want to miss those moments that are so fleeting.

    In that sense, he speaks for a lot of dads in America. I worked part-time after our daughter was born, at least a portion of it from home. And I would watch my husband when he left us in the morning. He wanted to stay, but his job is not the type that can be done from just anywhere. In going to work, he was being a good dad; he was making sure our little girl had food in her tummy and a roof over her head.

    The fact that he's made a mint over the years certainly gives Jay-Z a little more latitude here than the average parent. He doesn't "need" to go work tomorrow or even next year. He'll be a stay-at-home dad by choice, not necessity.

    But he joins the ranks of some 154,000 guys who have opted to stay home, and who still get a lot of flak for it. Even in 2012, there are snide comments about whether a stay-at-home dad is "manly" enough. There is a stigma for men who are simply doing what women have for years: deciding that this is what works best for their family, their kids. Considering stay-at-home moms and working moms are still at loggerheads, it's no surprise that a dad making the choice is somewhat controversial. Silly and shortsighted, but still, not surprising.

    But I think a lot of men like my husband would identify with what Jay-Z had to stay about his decisions to take some time off from work to be with Blue Ivy:

    After my daughter was born I thought I would be more inspired with all the new feelings and everything that I’d have to write about, but it really happened the other way. I just really wanna hang out with her. I just wanna enjoy those moments for a bit and I’m sure that feeling of music will come back to me.

    The beauty of being a parent in 2012 is that Dads are finally being given the chance to actually ENJOY being dads. The look on my husband's face when he's crouched on the floor putting together a LEGO set with our daughter is what reminds me why I had a child with him. He's not just some guy in her life, he's her Daddy. That's not something that should bring scorn or laughter. That's something to be celebrated.

    Blue Ivy is one lucky little girl! I just hope people realize it ... and begin to copy it. Jay-Z could make a lot of families very happy if they follow his trend.

    What do you think when you find out a man has opted to be a stay-at-home dad?

     

    Image via Splash News


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Alexandria BainThere was little question that the two youngest girls in the Bain family were going to have a lot to get over after being kidnapped by one-time family friend and "uncle" Adam Mayes. Police say he killed their mom and older sister, and then took off with Alexandria Bain, 12, and Kyliyah Bain, 8, into the woods. But these poor kids were just delivered another blow.

    Alexandria's real father has come out of the woodwork, and he wants her to come live with him. So after surviving an abduction that included three days in the woods with no food or water, she may be separated from the only other person who understands what she's going through. How's that for adding trauma on top of tragedy?

    The whole Mayes case has been a complicated tangle of relationships from the get-go. The kidnapper was a one-time brother-in-law of Gary Bain, whose wife and three daughters disappeared overnight, along with Mayes, back in April. Then we learned that Mayes and Gary's wife, JoAnn, were suspected of having an affair. There was even news that Mayes though he was the father of Alexandria and Kyliyah.

    But now we can add the name Mark Johnson to the whole mess. He is Alexandria's biological father and was the father of Adrienne Bain, the 14-year-old police also say was killed by Mayes. And apparently he wants his elder daughter back, even though he gave up custody years ago to Gary and JoAnn. 

    I suppose I understand the logic. JoAnn, the girl's biological mother, is gone. Gary was her husband but had no blood tie to the girl.

    And yet, Gary is legally Alexandria's father. He was willing to adopt the child when her own father gave up on her. And what's more, he's the father of little Kyliyah, the sister who went through this whole horrifying trauma with Alexandria. They aren't just "sisters" because they share blood. They're forever tied together as survivors. Separating these girls might be legal, but it certainly is not kind or humane.

    What do you think should happen with the Bain girls now?

     

    Image via Natonal Center for Missing & Exploited Children


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    cemeteryA murder/suicide plot is always unsettling. But police are still struggling to find a motive for Tonya Thomas, the mom in Brevard County, Florida who killed her own children this week, before turning the gun on herself. Is it any wonder everyone and their brother are grasping at straws and second guessing them?

    It goes against everything that we hold dear about motherhood. Moms are supposed to be their kids' chief protectors. Moms don't just kill their kids. But Tonya Thomas apparently did that. She killed Pebbles Johnson, 17, Jaxs Johnson, 15, Jazzlyn Johnson, 13, and Joel Johnson, 12.

    So I guess I understand why people are saying the family's history of tangling with the law explains what happened this week. One report shows Thomas was arrested in 2002 on a misdemeanor battery charge for striking the father of her children, but it was dropped. Another claims she filed a similar charge against him two years before that. And then there is the news that one of the four children killed, 15-year-old Jaxs Johnson, had been charged with domestic violence, possibly for hurting his mom ... maybe not.

    Is it all stuff that could have led up to the horrible tragedy in Brevard County this week? Maybe. But then again, I think we all want to find a reason so we can wrap this up nicely with a bow on top and say "not my family, uh uh, no way, no how." Fact is, it sounds like the Thomas/Johnson family had troubles. But don't we all? Is there any family that doesn't have a few skeletons? And yet, most of us would not pull out a gun and kill our kids.

    These issues may have played a role in the horror of a mom killing her kids and herself. But they don't explain it away. If it did, sadly, every single mom I know would have motive enough to do the unthinkable.

    I have to believe that this goes deeper. It goes beyond the troubles of family life. It goes into the psyche. Tonya Thomas wasn't just troubled. She walked past the point of no return. And she isn't coming back. But that doesn't mean the rest of us are at risk. There is no warning sign for something this horrific, there is no making sense of it. It just happens, and that's the hardest thing to deal with.

    What has been going through your mind since you heard this horror story?

     

    Image via Adam Selwood/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    care packages for troopsGet ready to get angry. Incredible Hulk kind of angry. A cargo worker at JFK Airport in New York is facing charges this week for allegedly stealing from care packages that he was supposed to be getting onto planes, care packages that were packed up for members of our military serving overseas.

    Cops say the suspect in the thefts, Terrance Ralph, was caught because he had the audacity to actually wear some of the pilfered items to work. No surprise, really. If he really is the kind of guy who would steal from a care package, he can't be terribly bright, can he? At least I hope this alleged crime was simple stupidity, because the other alternative is even more depressing.

    If you're stealing from care packages for our troops, and you're not dumb, then you're just plain cruel. Think about it. A care package for a soldier is meant to brighten his or her day. And those days can get pretty crappy. They're far from home and family; they're often facing life and death situations. Trust me, they need that care package more than most.

    And what makes these kind of crimes so hard to track is exactly what makes them so nice to get: they're full of surprises. This isn't something a soldier ordered of the Internet that will come as expected, with a record that can be tracked in case it doesn't show. There is no recouping lost goods by calling up a credit card company with something like this.

    It's very likely packed with love by a volunteer who just wanted to show this guy or girl that they appreciate their sacrifice for this country. That means it could have granola bars or DVDs or maybe a letter from a little girl who wants a soldier to know she is thinking about him. That's what makes them priceless. It makes them sacrosanct.

    I have to hope someone who would break into care packages for soldiers is just too dumb to know better. Because if they're really that mean, that's a serious level of mean.

    What do you make of this accusation against a cargo worker?

     

    Image via Dell's Official Flickr Page/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Cozy Crib TentA major recall of crib tents and play yard tents has a horrible story behind it. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is issuing yet another recall on the baby product made by Tots in Mind, a now defunct company, to try to get them out of homes. The tents have been blamed in the death of one baby and the catastrophic brain injury of another. And yet, parents still seem to be using them.

    That's got the CPSC so concerned that they've convinced five retailers who once sold the tents to give money out of their own coffers to parents. Think you're in line for a refund? Here's what you need to know to get your money ... and more importantly, keep your child safe.

    1. The voluntary recall is for 330,000 crib tents and play yard tents made by Tots in Mind. There are no model numbers, but affected tents feature the Tots In Mind logo located on the non-mesh portion near the top of the tent. They were sold under the names Cozy Crib Tent, Cozy Crib Tent II, Crib Tent for Portable Play Yards, Portable Play Yard Tent Plus Cabana Kit, and Portable Play Yard Tent.

    2. The tents have a serious defect that has reportedly trapped some 27 kids, including the child who died. Although a repair kit was once offered, the CPSC advises parents to stop using the tents immediately and NOT to attempt a repair.

    3. The tents were sold at the following retailers, all of which can be contacted for a refund: Amazon.com; Bed Bath & Beyond/Buy Buy Baby, 800-GOBEYOND; Burlington Coat Factory, 888-223-2628; Toys R Us/Babies R Us, 800-869-7787; and Wal-mart 800-925-6278.

    4. Refunds will vary. The tents originally sold for $65 to $80, and some retailers are offering store credit rather than cash.

    Is your child sleeping under one of these tents?

     

    Image via Consumer Product Safety Commission


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Mary Kennedy Robert F Kennedy Jr.There's no question the death of Mary Richardson Kennedy is tragic. The estranged wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was just 52 years old, and she left behind young children with her apparent suicide. But all this talk of the Kennedy curse tends to make me a little uncomfortable.

    Are we talking about a loss of life because we're saddened by tragedy? Or are people so hellbent on proving some sort of superstitious hocus pocus that they'll grasp at any straw? Is there really a Kennedy curse?

    I wasn't convinced. So I went poking through the history of the Kennedy clan.

    More from The Stir: Mary Richardson Kennedy's Suicide Makes a Legacy of Loss Even More Tragic (VIDEO)

    And I hate to say it, but there might be something to this whole "curse" thing after all. Young deaths. Criminal scandals. Folks with tangential relations getting caught up in painful incidents?

    It's all there in black and white and sometimes color photographs. Mary Kennedy's death is yet another sad story in a list of sad stories.

    Take a look and be honest, do you think the Kennedys are cursed?


    Image via Getty Images


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Mary Kennedy Robert F Kennedy Jr.The first thing I did after hearing Mary Richardson Kennedy had died was start doing the math in my head. She'd been married to Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for 16 years. They had four kids. Which meant it was highly unlikely any of those children had yet reached age 18.

    I was right. Reports say the Kennedy kids' ages range from 10 to 17. They're all old enough to understand the word "death." And yet, they're all too young to be facing a world without a mother.

    Imagine you're one of the Kennedy children. Your mother didn't just die. She committed suicide after years of struggling with alcohol. Her death was splashed across every newspaper in the country. And you're already haunted by the early deaths of your grandfather, your uncles.

    And the one person you probably most want to talk about it with is gone much too soon.

    It's not that there is a "good" age to lose a parent. A 55-year-old can grieve just as hard as a 15-year-old and vice versa. But I don't think anyone would argue with me if I say that part of parent's job is to get our kids to adulthood. When a parent dies before their kid gets there, they can't finish the job.

    The results can range. Some kids make it out just fine, either by luck or a wonderful support system. For others, the trauma can be great. Drugs. Alcohol. Depression. A lifetime of fear that the people they love most are going to leave them.

    I hope that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and the rest of the clan huddles around these kids and gives them the support they need to make it through the tumultuous teen years without their mom. It's the only way to prevent more tragedies for an already tragic family.

    Have you lost a parent? How old were you?

     

    Image via Getty Images


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Fifty Shades of GreyE.L. James may be stunned by how popular her Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy is, but let's face it. If you haven't read at least one of the three books, one of your friends has. And everywhere you go, someone is talking about it ... or more likely quoting some naughty bit Christian Grey whispered in the ear of his lover Anastasia Steele.

    Stop rolling your eyes. You don't even have to be Team Fifty to admit that some of this stuff is hot with a capital H.O.T. And if you're still biting your lip and doubting it over there, let me clear it up for you.

    We have gathered up 15 of sexiest and sweetest quotes from the summer read of 2012, and we've got them all hear for you. Maybe you want to pin them on Pinterest (The Stir has its own Fifty Shades board ... check us out!), or you just want to slip them into conversation so people think you know what you're talking about. Either way, we've got you covered.

    Let the sexy talk begin!

    What is your favorite Fifty Shades of Grey quote?

     

    Image via Amazon


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    votePresident Barack Obama, consider this your official notice. There's a new name in the ring for president. Reylynn Caster is 9 years old, and she knows she can't technically take the gig until 2040. But the Kansas resident knows the early bird gets the worm.

    She's campaigning. Now. She's even got business cards and her own campaign fund.

    Now that's what you call being proactive. Attention, folks living inside the Beltway? You should be so lucky as to have a kid like this.

    Heck, I want to have her come have a talk with my daughter about having ambition and doing things for the right reasons. The little girl doesn't want to be the president because it will make her famous -- although she's already getting national media attention. Instead Caster's mom says, "She wants to change the way that people treat other people."

    And lest you think that's just the words of a mom trying to make her kid sound like a saint, check out one of Reylynn's comments on Facebook when asked what she thinks of President Obama being re-elected:

    I feel it is important to support any president that is elected. Because it is a hard job and no matter what decisions they make for us, some people will agree and disagree no matter what.

    It's that kind of attitude that we need in Congress but, more to the point, also in our school hallways and on the playground. If we can teach our kids that it's one thing to stand up for what you believe in, another thing to bash people over the head with our beliefs, we may be able to stop this whole bullying thing in its tracks. Sadly what kids see in politics these days is more or less the opposite of what we want them to do.

    Politicians are too busy trying to get elected to act like human beings. Maybe having a 9-year-old in the campaign ring with them isn't such a bad idea. I notice people tend to tone down their cursing and attitude when you walk into a group with a young child; perhaps Reylynn could do the same on Capitol Hill.

    If she were my daughter, I know I'd feel like I was doing something right. How about you?

     

    Image via hjl/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Life GiversI know what you're thinking. A video about breastfeeding, that's just for women who breastfed. WRONG! No mommy wars here! Cross my heart and hope to die. The hilarious LA Women who created the so-called "breastfeeding anthem" Life Givers know the truth about what delivering a child does to you.

    It changes you. And I'm not talking about some kumbaya, we're all part of the great circle of life change here, Moms. This amazing body that gives life kicks some serious butt in the whole mystic "how did she do that?" sense. But face it: our boobs take a beating!

    Or as LA Women member Jennifer Tracy sings, "I always dreamed I'd be a beautiful fair princess with a bust size of a C ... now my boobies hang so low, they're staring at my feet."

    Oh yeah! Sing it sister(s):

    See this video on The Stir by CafeMom.

    I wasn't able to breastfeed for long, and my teeny little tatas still took a beating. I'm sure you've heard doctors insisting that all women have breasts that are uneven? Somehow I avoided that particular plague ... until AFTER having a daughter.

    And it's not just the boobs, amIright? They're calling it an anthem for breastfeeding, but I think this speaks to all women who gave life.

    I have a friend who can't jump up without peeing herself. The skin on my stomach will sag whether I'm a size 6 or a 12. And don't get my other friend started on the zebra stripes her husband failed to tell her were spreading across her butt when she was pregnant. All us Life Givers have paid the price for the gift of babymaking.

    What has the miracle of giving life done to your boobies, or the rest of your body for that matter?

     

    Image via thelawomen/YouTube


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    poolWhen you're 16 years old and paralyzed from the waist down, you have enough on your plate without having to pitch a court battle. But that's just what Mary Kate Callahan has to do. The Illinois teenager has managed to train her body to be a competitive swimmer, but the scores she puts up for her local high school aren't enough to convince the state she's good enough for them to count toward her team's cumulative scores.

    Callahan is currently embroiled in a lawsuit against the Illinois High School Association because they won't let her swim with so-called "regular kids." Her scores are left off the list of her team's scores, and her name isn't being put forth to go toward the state swimming championships. What a lesson this is for kids, huh? A teenager refuses to let her disability hold her back from being competitive, only to be told that it doesn't matter what she's done ... she's not good enough because her legs don't work like everyone else's.

    On an average day, I read lawsuit and I roll my eyes. We live in a country where parents have taken the court system over and turned it into a place where they pitch hissies instead of actually pushing their kids to accept that there are limitations in life.

    But that's the thing about Callahan. She has already proven that her particular "limitation" isn't. She can swim, and swim well. Her body in the water is more similar to her peers than not.

    She isn't asking to be treated "better" or get "special" treatment. She just wants to be treated the same as her teammates.

    Isn't that what we want for our kids, regardless of their abilities? The chance to show that they are equal?

    I've found the parents who really teach their kids that they are the same as their peers are the ones who end up raising children who come out ahead. These kids don't see any reason to stop at "just" equal, and it's because someone always had faith in them that they are just as good without blowing it over the top. There is nothing wrong with believing in our kids, and self-esteem, provided we give them balance, teach them they have to work for it.

    And Callahan has worked for it. She's trained a body that's struggled since dealing with a rare neurological disease as a baby to become a fish in the water. It's only right that the state meet her halfway.

    Have you ever had to fight for your child's school to actually meet your family halfway?

     

    Image via terren in Virginia/Flickr


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Isabel CelisThe bad news just keeps piling up for the family of Isabel Celis, the 6-year-old Arizona girl who went missing last month. Police in Tucson are now saying that child welfare workers made a visit to the Celis home way back in December. That's in addition to the news earlier this week that little Isa's big brothers are now living with mom Becky and dad Sergio has been barred from contacting them.

    Police won't say much about the alleged CPS incident in December, beyond the fact that something happened. And they're still saying that Isabel's abduction could have been by a stranger or a family member -- they can't (or won't) say which. But let's be real.

    Even if neither of Isabel's parents was in any way involved in the little girl's disappearance, the fact that they've tangled at least twice now with child protective services means that theirs is anything but a happy home. Are there are ever times where CPS is called and it turns out to be a false alarm? Of course. We all know at least someone with a disgruntled neighbor or cranky ex-aunt-in-law who has decided to enact a vendetta with some bogus charge about child abuse.

    But we also all tend to know at least someone -- even if we don't know them very well -- who has had real dealings with a CPS-like agency. Nine times out of 10 -- the 10th being that rare exception for a bogus call -- these things are real. Nine times out of 10, at least one parent made a mistake.

    So take the fact that police now say that the Celis family has had at least two dealings with CPS. Based on the law of probability, it's looking less and less likely that it could be "bogus," more and more likely that somebody is screwing up here.

    I hope little Isabel is found. I hope her parents didn't play a role in her going missing. But even if she is and they didn't, there will be a lot more to be dealt with in the Celis household.

    How do you feel about a visit from CPS?

     

    Image via National Center for Missing & Exploited Children


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    glee goodbyeGlee fans, I think Ryan Murphy owes us a box of chocolates and a bouquet. Remember how he started us all hyperventilating with the news that our New Directions faves were all going to graduate on us? He totally psyched us out.

    Oh yeah, Kurt Hummel, Rachel Berry, and Finn Hudson are all going to get their McKinley High diplomas. But everybody is coming back to the show. Got that? Nobody is leaving us.

    Wait, whaaaat? How the heck are they going to make that work? Oh, don't worry, I'm getting to that. It's a doozy.

    Murphy is pointing to the show following both the old stand-bys at the school in Ohio (and perhaps some newbies ... come on, they totally set us up for a return of Unique in the Nationals episode) and the college kids in New York, plus -- if they don't throw any surprises at us -- Quinn at Yale. At the same time. In one TV show.

    Folks, I'm scared. This sounds like one of those desperate attempts to make so many people happy that everyone ends up pretty P.O.'d in the end. Murphy says he told every member in the cast that he had a spot for them if they wanted to come back, and every one said yes. It's very sweet, and I can't exactly blame these actors for sticking by a show that has made them very rich and famous.

    But we've forgiven the problems with the show because, hey, they're kids! Take Glee out of high school, and they're not kids anymore. It will require a higher standard of writing for those characters, which Murphy and crew had better be prepared to meet. And they'd best remember where their bread has been buttered ... in a high school setting.

    The power of this show has always been that -- though far-fetched -- it gives us a chance to relieve the tough parts of the teen years from the comfort of being outside of it all. Watching this band of misfits find each other on a hit TV show of all places is its own form of payback to all the people who made OUR high school lives suck.

    Are you happy to see the whole cast coming back or worried it will make a confusing mess out of your favorite show?


    Image via Fox


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    Post by Jeanne Sager

    Kailyn LowryThe more you hear about Kailyn Lowry these days, the more it sounds like the Teen Mom 2 star has a handle on this whole growing up gracefully thing. She's ditched the lousy ex-boyfriend. She's working her way through college. And she's even figured out how to make one of the biggest style changes most women make in a way that she's least likely to regret.

    Unlike her co-stars who've been making headlines for their boob jobs, Lowry's skipping the knife and going straight for the scissors. After several seasons sporting long blonde hair on the reality show, Lowry says she's going to be chopping it all off. She's even figured out how to make it worth her while.

    Unlike the celebrities who do something drastic with their hair just for the attention (cough, Britney, cough), Lowry's decided to use her fame and her mane for a good cause. Once the hair has grown out another 6 inches, Lowry says she'll donate it to charity.

    Good for her! I wish more of the celebrities who go into the stylist for a short 'do would consider following suit. Actually, wait, forget celebrities. I wish more regular people would do it. Period.

    I get it; going for a new 'do can be stressful. You're excited, but you're nervous. And we have all looked in a mirror after a haircut and thought, "Oh my God, what have I done?"

    But after shaving my head five different times for charity (and planning to do so again this September in honor of Children's Cancer Month), my perspective on "bad" cuts has changed entirely. I have never stepped out of the chair after shaving my head to fight childhood cancer and regretted it. It's hard to feel cranky about your hair when you've got a charity thanking you.

    Even when I'm not really happy with how I look because of other body image issues, I'm more than OK with what's on top of my head. Because I know I didn't just change for me. I changed someone else's life.

    There are at least half a dozen charities that accept human hair donations these days, usually turning it into wigs for kids who have some sort of medical condition, from cancer to alopecia. Some, like the Angel Hair Foundation, will even accept chemically-treated or gray hair provided it's in good condition (the route Lowry says she has to go because she'd dyed her hair in the past). And then there's St. Baldrick's, my personal pet charity. It's a group that asks folks willing to shave their heads to ask for donations from friends who'd like to see it happen ... and all of the money goes to fight childhood cancer.

    What do you think? Could you pony up your mane for a good cause like this teen mom?

     

    Image via MTV


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