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Creative, Goofy and Unforgettable: Team Dads Find the Perfect Way to Present Their Support of Volleyball Daughters in a Picture

Shannon Jackson




Never Underestimate a Small Town, its Teams and its Parents

A small-town high school girls’ volleyball team will never forget the year their fathers looked at the team photo and said, “we can do that!” The photo of Grand Haven, Michigan team members in their jerseys standing in Lake Michigan was a creative classic in itself, perfect for posterity on trophy shelves and in yearbooks. What the fathers did on their own, however, memorialized their own enthusiasm and love for their offspring. It was not only unforgettable, it went viral. That’s why you’re reading about it now.

Copycat Flattery of the Strangest Kind

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they say. The Grand Haven fathers must have heard that somewhere and didn’t quite get the point. Their effort could easily have been mistaken for satire. They put themselves, approaching middle age, some bearded, some tummy-laden, and definitely not young or female, into a reenacted team photograph. Not by Photoshop — dads Dave Whittaker, Roger Swierbut and others stole their daughters’ team jerseys one Saturday morning, went down to the lake (now freezing cold as the season had changed) with the original photographer, and stood in the water, posing. 

The Beauty is in the Recreation Dedication

The picture came out perfectly. It really does say “we’re so into our kids’ dedication to their sport that we’re copying their image of pride.” The poses are the same: the girls can’t help but notice that the fathers were paying close attention in recreating the photo — and that it represents their season-long attention and support of the team. We’re there with you, it says, even in ways you didn’t expect. If it’s the thought that counts, these dads hit the jackpot. Team member Lexie Kallio didn’t mind at all — she cheered on the dads’ enthusiasm, calling them the best dads ever.

3-2-1 Launch! Wacky Fathers, Going Viral

For some, the amazing part was probably when the picture went viral. From an inside joke between fathers and daughters, it expanded through the power of the internet and reached out both honoring the high schoolers and reminding parents, school administrators and communities about the joy that’s found in supporting young people and their athletic dedication. We’re there with you, we’re a team with you said these goofy fathers, and the daughters, embarrassed as teenagers get, loved on their fathers for breaking through in such a creative way.

What the Volleyball Team and Fathers Story Is and Isn’t

Some of the story is in what’s not told: the team’s energy and unity are celebrated as word spreads with the picture, but the team’s numbers aren’t nearly as important. Head coach Aaron Smaka thought the whole thing was hilarious. In the end, it seems, the success of humor doesn’t mean that winning doesn’t matter — but that winning comes in many forms, and in many cases isn’t an either/or proposition. It’s just a matter of how far you can go in your practice, dedication and celebration, and what memories you can create along the way. But, as the media have pointed out, the copycat picture also immortalized “dad bods” and made them almost cool. Everybody wins.



Elementary Students In New York Are Overjoyed When They Receive This Touching Gift!

Kelly Taylor



Do you remember what it was like waking up early for school, only to find that you didn’t have the right supplies to get through the day? The unfortunate truth is, many children live in this state of being throughout their entire childhood. Whether due to neglect or merely lack of income, students go to school every day without the supplies that they need to get the education that will prepare them for life. Fortunately, there are great people out there working to turn the situation around. Our story begins at the P.S. 52 Elementary School in Queens, New York where the entire student body was gifted with a touching and emotional gift.

The Kids in Need Foundation is a charitable group that operates with one goal in mind, to make sure that all children have what they need in order to succeed in the classroom. This nationally recognized charity made headlines when they showed up at P.S. 52 Elementary School in Queens with a gift for the students that had assembled in the auditorium. As the children waited on the edge of their seats, the foundation arrived with brand new, high-quality backpacks, filled to the brim with important school supplies. Each child was given a bag and the corresponding supplies to have, take home, and use as they work through their courses.

When the students were handed their bags, they were beaming with joy. When the young students began to dig through the bags, they started laughing, cheering, and shouting with joy. While most people can take school supplies for granted, that isn’t a luxury that everyone can afford. There is nothing more heartbreaking for a teacher or parent than to see a child without the tools that they need in order to prepare for the future.

The Kids in Need Foundation has a mission statement of supplying many of the 15 million kids who currently live in abject poverty. More than just a bag or a set of binders, the school supplies that the Kids in Need Foundation hand out can dramatically improve the lives of the children that they are helping. In fact, studies have routinely shown that when students have their own school supplies, there are a number of direct benefits. Among the many benefits of a well-prepared student are improved self-esteem, a better attitude toward school, and improved behavior and engagement while in the classroom. Of course, prepared students also score higher marks on their homework and exams. 

Last year alone, more than 200,000 teachers came together to supply six million students from poverty challenged communities. The Foundation has been operating for more than 23 years, and they have, thus far, donated more than $1 billion worth of supplies to children who would have had no other recourse for their school preparation.

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Should Toddlers Have Tablets? If You’re Responsible, Why Not?

Kelly Taylor



There’s no denying that we live in a digital world. Everywhere you look, you find computers, mobile devices, and screens – so many screens. Sometimes, it seems like the world is encased behind glass, and we can only view it through apps and social media. 

However, that’s the power of progress. Decades ago, it was a fantasy to talk face-to-face with someone across the world. Now, you can do it from virtually anywhere. Technology has brought us closer together and enabled seismic changes in our daily lives. 

That being said, too much time in front of a screen can worsen our physical and emotional health. 

So, if screen time is bad for adults, what does that mean for kids?

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Depending on who you ask, a tablet is either a godsend or a tool of the devil. For parents who need a break, a tablet is the best thing since the pacifier. 

On the other hand, parents who watch the news believe that any screen time is just asking for trouble. 

Fortunately, as with everything else in this world, it’s all about finding a balance. My thoughts? What’s the harm in a little interactive entertainment now and again?

To be clear, I’m not advocating for unlimited screen time. My kids still have to grow up as a human being, not a robot. I understand that more time on a tablet can lead to a variety of problems later on. 

Science also backs me up here. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the limit for screen time should be one hour per day for children under five. This includes everything from smartphones to regular old television. 

What’s the danger? Well, according to recent studies, toddlers that spent several hours per day on a tablet scored much lower on various cognitive and developmental tests. These tests are designed to assess a child’s motor functions, such as stacking blocks or matching shapes. 

The problem with too much screen time is that kids don’t learn how to interact with the real world. A perfect example of this was when my child was using a coloring book for the first time. 

Instead of scribbling with the crayon as I expected her to, she touched the tip to a color on the side. Then, she tapped the section she wanted to fill in, just like on her tablet. She did this a couple of times until she got frustrated that nothing was happening. 

At first, I was sure that the tablet had to go. However, after composing myself, I simply showed her how to do it, and she picked it up relatively quickly. 

And that’s the point. Children only repeat what they’re shown. If you stick them in front of a tablet all day, they will only learn how to push buttons. If you play with them and show them how to use toys, that’s what they’ll do. 

So, is the tablet an evil invention or a useful tool? I’m leaning toward the latter. My toddler isn’t just watching – she’s learning. Her tablet provides a world of knowledge at her fingertips. 

Let the tablet provide some much-needed respite when you need a few moments to yourself, and then take it away when it’s time to interact with the real world. Like everything else, moderation is key. Also, don’t use the tablet as a bargaining chip. You’ll only teach bad habits that way. 

Remember, we live in a digital world. Our kids will have to use these devices at some point, so why not teach responsible behavior at a young age? 

Yes, my three-year-old has a tablet, and that’s okay. Don’t @ me, though. 

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Couple Who Fed Hippo Jell-O For Their Gender Reveal Respond: ‘It Was A Very Small Amount’

Kelly Taylor



Feeding a hippo Jell-O to reveal the gender of an unborn child is not an everyday thing. Perhaps such is why this couple decided to solicit the services of Tank, a friendly hippo who happens to love Jell-O and watermelon, to help them reveal the gender of their baby. 

The couple from Texas went to great lengths to make their big reveal different. “Everyone it seems has done the cake thing,” the expectant father says. “You cut the cake open and there is either pink or blue inside. Not many people think outside of the box with these things,” he adds. The father-to-be and his wife hoped to change that dynamic. 

The expectant couple went to Capital of Texas Zoo in Cedar Creek where Tank the friendly hippo currently resides. “From the moment we saw Tank, we knew that he was the one,” the mother-to-be says. “He came right up to us,” she adds. “He was so friendly.” 

The couple formed a bond with the animal and knew that they had to have him at their gender reveal party. “We asked the zookeeper and he told us everything that we needed to know about Tank. He told us about the hippo’s sleeping patterns, when he is most interactive, and his favorite foods.” 

The couple got an idea upon hearing that Tank loves Jell-O and watermelon. “Why not fill a watermelon with Jell-O that represents the color of our unborn child’s gender? We knew that our idea was fresh,” the mother-to-be says. 

Fresh is one way to describe the notion of giving a hippo blue Jell-O (the couple is expecting a son). Controversial is another word that comes to mind. Social media was certainly happy to see another couple expanding their family with the expectancy of a child. Viewers were not thrilled to see the father-to-be give Tank the mystery watermelon. 

“Are you serious,” one Twitter critic asked. “Who had the bright idea to give this animal food coloring? How dumb can you be? And they’re having a kid??? God help us all.” Another critic was not as harsh. 

“Jell-O may be good for humans but it is not the best thing for animals,” the social media viewer wrote. “There is a lot of sugar in Jell-O and other artificial ingredients that a hippo’s system may not be able to digest. Did you all do any research before deciding to do this?” 

The expectant couple assured their critics that they in fact researched the matter. “This was not a rush job,” the father-to-be wrote in response to all the scrutiny. “We asked Tank’s caregiver what would be best.” 

If given the opportunity, would the couple do things differently? “I think we would do it again,” the mom-to-be says. “We probably wouldn’t share it with the world, though,” she added. “There are way too many critics out there.”

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Law Firm’s Siamese Cat Leon is Just the Latest in a Tradition of World-Famous and Influential Stray Cats

Shannon Jackson



Cat’s Don’t Like Rain, and Stray Leon Liked the Brazilian Bar Association’s Offices

The Order of Attorneys of Brazil is the Brazilian national bar association, a very serious institution for the country’s legal profession. When a stray cat arrived during the rainy season and made itself known, visitors began to complain. A stray cat is not right for a serious establishment, they said. Leon, a handsome Siamese, was prepared to debate the point.

Cats Can Choose Fame if they Want To

Cats have a natural talent for self-promotion. When people invite stray cats into their lives, amazing things do seem to happen as if the cats had planned it all along. It couldn’t be by chance, right? Cats have clout. For instance:

  • London stray Bob the Cat — bestselling books, movies
  • Iowa library cat Dewey — bestselling books, movie
  • Mexican mayoral candidate Morris the Cat — 100,000 Facebook likes
  • 2016 U.S. Presidential candidate Limberbutt McCubbins — multiple national print, radio, and tv stories

Dr. Leon the Cat’s Legal Career

Back to Leon’s story — some of Brazil’s best legal minds set to work figuring out how to make Leon’s situation less tenuous. What better way than to make his position official? They hired him as a greeter, later promoted him to “Dr Leon, the lawyer,” and gave him his own employee badge and appropriately formal attire including suits, waistcoats and ties. Clothes make the man, especially in the case of lawyers, and so clothes also make the cat. It also silenced the stray cat complaints — nothing like that around here, they said, just us lawyers.

New Challenges and Creative Solutions: You’re Hired, Cat!

Leon the Siamese was hired by the law firm and once again, a stray cat was on his way to becoming famous. If you call over 40,000 followers on Instagram (dr_leon_advogato) famous, that is. While some stray cats still prefer to live lives of quiet anonymity once they find a forever home, clearly felines have the option of jumping onto the world’s stage if they prefer.

Cats in Positions of Power Worldwide

Leon holds to another internet cat tradition: holding court with his followers and sharing his opinions and experiences online. Cats seem to have their own social media thing going, of which he is now part — for example, Larry the Cat (@Number10cat) at the Prime Minister’s Residence in London has 329,000 Twitter followers, many of them cats themselves. Larry’s been “tweeting” for over eight years, as human residents of Number 10 come and go.

Lawyers Recognize the Power of the Cat

If any visitors to the Brazilian bar association still question the presence of a well-dressed, credentialed cat among the workers, it’s clear that the problem lies with their inability to keep up with the times. Cats are a political, legal and economic force to be reckoned with, and generally good company at the office as well as at home.

Flexing Cat Muscles for Change

Leon’s coworkers couldn’t really see their way to adding even more cats to the staff, but they used their lawyering powers for good in this area. They set out to create an NGO, a charity organization, to help find homes for other stray cats in the region. As Leon’s fame spread, they knew that the number of people who wanted to help would expand and they wanted to be ready. And so the story of Dr Leon the lawyer cat continues to write itself and benefit the stray cats of Brazil.

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To Get Sweet, Long-Suffering Dog a Home, a Local Man Lived in the Shelter With Her

Kelly Taylor



It Wasn’t Because Scott Poore Needed an Office for His Business

In an age where shared workspaces are a popular solution for small business owners, you could imagine that Scott moved into a dog’s shelter space for practical reasons. In a way, he did: he wanted to bring focus on the wonderful creature he had met, and help her find a forever home after more than 400 days at the shelter. It just happened that Scott could also operate his business, animal-oriented Mission Driven Goods, while spending time living with his new friend, a terrier mix named Queen.

Things Happen When People Pay Attention

When Scott noticed that the doggie was looking down more days than not and seemed to be losing heart and hope, he took action. He moved in. He not only ran his business from the small kennel space, he also contributed in lieu of rent. It’s a good thing he didn’t sign a long-term lease.

A Dog’s Bad Luck, Bound to Turn Good Eventually

According to Scott, Queen came from a bad home in a bad neighborhood. She lived in a dumpster when she was found, with nowhere to go but up. She got veterinary care and attention at the shelter to make her ready for adoption, but still after 400 days she was looking eagerly at every visitor to her corner of the shelter, and nothing was happening. When Scott visited, he saw her kind nature and thought it was just a matter of increased awareness about this wonderful stray dog.

Shelter Operations and Local Politics Can Dwarf the Needs of a Lone Creature

Great Plains Shelter has been involved in animal shelter operations in the local area and county during turbulent times, and with record volumes of pets and strays passing through, Queenie could have gotten lost in the shuffle despite their best efforts. The role of a single individual made a big difference in Queen’s life, and in the life of the lucky new owner who took her home.

Life in the Shelter for Man and Dog

Scott moved into Queen’s space as part of his mission to raise awareness about shelter pets, especially ones which have resided in facilities for a long time. Sometimes it’s just a matter of time and exposure, a chance for the right person to come along. Scott brought a desk and other living materials in and vowed to stay until Queen left, too, for a new home. He noted two reasons that he picked her for his enhanced support: she was one of the most friendly, personal creatures he’d met, and she had had a rough life from the beginning up to the 400-day shelter stay. Things were looking up overall, but she was starting to look down.

Making National News Once for Moving in, Twice for Moving Out

The good news came soon after, though, as Scott’s contribution to Queen’s visibility and adoption prospects appeared to pay off. The reach of Queen’s and Scott’s story shows how people around the globe and in the local community took an interest. As reported in sources including the New York Post, it took just a week of living together before Queen — and Scott — moved out. In a surprise twist, her new owner Tony Puluso said he didn’t know the backstory including Scott’s somewhat odd behavior. He just thought Queen was the dog for him. But who knows how many other pets were adopted after long shelter stays because of the story?

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