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Vanessa Bryant Eulogizes her husband Kobe Bryant and Daughter Gigi

Vanessa Bryant

It was a somber bittersweet day in the Staples Center in Los Angeles when 20,000 mourners packed into the indoor stadium that the late NBA Player Kobe Bryant built to bid him and his 13-year old daughter Gianna farewell.

His widow Vanessa Bryant, a celebrity mom covered often on the blog, gave a heart breaking but still beautiful eulogy of her husband and daughter. As USA Today summarized in its coverage:

She mourned the loss of her “baby girl” Gianna, “a sweet and gentle soul” and preternaturally talented athlete who she said was destined for WNBA greatness. She remembered her husband as a soulful romantic with a “tender heart” and a “doting” father for whom family always came first.

“They were funny, happy, silly, and they loved life,” Vanessa said of Kobe and Gianna, adding: “God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other. He had to bring them home to heaven together.”

Beyonce Knowles Carter opened the event performing one of her hits, “XO” which she said was one of Kobe’s favorite song with lyrics that go, “In the darkest hour / I’ll search through the crowd / Your face is all I can see / I’ll give you everything.” She later burst into a soulful rendition of her song, “Halo

Alicia Keys moved the crowd by playing Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” a piece she said was favored by Kobe and Vanessa.

Keys had previously paid tribute to Kobe and Gianna on the night they died, performing “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye” alongside Boyz II Men at the Grammy Awards last month.

At various points throughout the event, the crowd broke out in chants of “Kobe! Kobe!”

Retired NBA stars Michael Jordan, Dwyane Wade, and Tim Duncan along with entertainer Jennifer Lopez and her fiance retired baseball player Alex Rodriguez and late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel were all in attendance for the ceremony, along with other celebs like friends of the Bryant family Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West.

The date chosen for the memorial — Feb. 24, or 2/24/20 — is a combination of their jersey numbers. Gianna wore No. 2 and her dad wore No. 24 in the latter part of his 20-season career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Tickets went for variations of 2 and 4, $24.24 or $224 for two.

Several NBA legends like former teammates  Shaquille O’Neal and Jordon gave rousing speeches by my fave was by University of Oregon player Sabrina Ionesco who gave a wonderful speech and tribute to girls sports too in honor of GiGi .

Proceeds will go to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation which raises money to provide sports education and training services for young women. The foundation was originally established as the Mamba Sports Academy, but Bryant’s widow announced that the name was changed to honor their daughter.

Kobe Bryant gave himself the moniker “Black Mamba” after a character in the Quentin Tarantino film Kill Bill.

“Because there is no #24 without #2, we have updated the Mamba Sports Foundation to now be called the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation,” Vanessa Bryant wrote on her Instagram page announcing the name change.

The two were headed to a game during a basketball tournament at a sports arena in Thousand Oaks, California named for Mamba when the helicopter they were riding in crashed killing them along with Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, 56, his wife Keri Altobelli, 46, and their daughter Alyssa Altobelli, 14; Sarah Chester, 45, and her daughter Payton Chester, 13; as well as Mamba Sports Academy coach Christina Mauser, 38; and pilot Ara Zobayan, 50.

Also from a NBCNews report:

Bryant and his daughter were traveling to Gigi’s basketball game in a Sikorsky S-76B helicopter, when it crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, Calif., on Jan. 26. All eight passengers and the pilot were killed.

The Bryants were laid to rest in a private ceremony in Southern California on Feb. 7.

Before the public ceremony got underway, the Los Angeles Times reported Vanessa Bryant has filed a lawsuit against Island Express Helicopters, the company that operated the chopper. NPR later confirmed the lawsuit with the Los Angeles Superior Court.

Investigators are still working to determine the cause of the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board said in its investigative update this month that the chopper’s rotors were both powered and turning at the time of impact, which it said indicates “the engines showed no evidences of uncontained or catastrophic internal failure.”

Photos taken shortly after the crash show conditions were foggy in the hills above Calabasas, but as NPR’s Russell Lewis has reported, the final investigative findings are not expected for at least a year.

photos: Getty

Hospitals Keep Cutting Women During Child Birth

For more than a decade does more harm to women than good. 

Mothers who receive episiotomies – an incision at the vaginal opening to create more room as a baby’s head appears – are more likely to suffer severe complications than if they had been allowed to tear naturally.  

That’s why national guidelines since 2006 have called for limiting the procedure to emergencies, such as when a baby’s shoulders get stuck. Although there is no national consensus on how frequently the procedure should be used, a leading hospital safety group recommends that the cuts should occur in no more than 5% of vaginal deliveries. 

But a USA today analysis of hospital billing data finds dozens of hospitals with episiotomy rates of 20% or higher, some of them nearly double that.

At the 553 hospitals analyzed, nearly 240,000 women were cut over four years. Those with the highest rates of episiotomies included major medical centers in big cities, mid-sized hospitals in metropolitan suburbs and small facilities in rural communities. Washington State had the lowest statewide rate: Just 3.8% during the time period studied. In New York and Nevada, statewide rates were more than 11%. 

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Kentucky Judge Who Refuses to Hear Gay Adoption Cases Faces Removal Petition


Gay rights groups have petitioned to unseat a Kentucky family court judge who announced last  month that he will no longer hear adoption cases involving “homosexual parties”.

Judge W. Mitchell Nance sits in Barren and Metcalfe counties and said his decision to recuse himself going forward from all adoptions involving gay people is because he believes allowing a gay person to adopt could never be in the child’s best interest.

Nance recusal is based on a judicial ethics rule that says a judge must disqualify himself when he has a personal bias or prejudice.

“If he can’t do the job, he shouldn’t have the job,” Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign told USA Today. 

But Christian and conservative organizations are backing Nance

But Martin Cothran, an analyst for the Family Foundation of Kentucky, which opposes gay marriage, said in an email to the paper that “we fully support the decision of Judge Nance to recuse himself from these kinds of cases.

“If we are going to let liberal judges write their personal biases and prejudices into law, as we have done on issues of marriage and sexuality, then in the interest of fairness we are going to have to allow judges whose personal biases and prejudices are different to recuse themselves from such cases,” Cothran said.

Cothran fought for a state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Kentucky until the Supreme Court overturned it.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal, together with the Fairness Campaign, the ACLU of Kentucky and University of Louisville law professor Sam Marcosson are asking the Judicial Conduct Commission to remove Judge W. Mitchell Nance from office.

Marcosson says Nance is refusing to to hear cases involving an entire class of litigants and therefore violates the state Code of Judicial Conduct by “eroding confidence in the judiciary and failing to perform judicial duties impartially and diligently.”

If the Judicial Conduct Commission finds a judge has violated rules, it may issue an admonition, a reprimand or a censure, or suspend or remove the judge from office.

All 50 states, including Kentucky, allow adoptions by gay parents after Mississippi’s ban was struck down last year. Researchers at Columbia University found that 75 of 79 scholarly studies found that such children face no disadvantages compared to those raised by heterosexual couples.

h/t USA Today

Study: Women Who Don’t Take their Husband’s Last Name Seen as Less Committed to Marriage

Women who elect to not take their husband’s last name after getting married are still seen as uncommitted to the marriage and would be blamed during a divorce, a recent study showed. That was the attitude mainly among the lesser educated men surveyed in a recent report.

However, that contradicts with an even more recent study published in Gender Issues which found that most Americans don’t think women who take their husbands’ last names are any more committed to their husbands than women who do not, nor do they hold women with their own surnames to a different standard.

This newer study builds on existing research around perceptions of surname choice for women. A survey conducted in 2006 found that 50% of Americans think women should be legally obligated to take their husbands’ last names, and 70% said it would be better if a woman changed her name.

“Women have made a lot of inroads in terms of employment, but what is more stalled in terms of gender inequality is in terms of what goes on in the home,” said Emily Fitzgibbons Shafer, the study’s author.

In one survey, conducted in 2010, presented respondents with a fictitious scenario: Carol has spent extra time in the office working toward a promotion while her husband, Bill Cook, is having to do more around the house. Respondents were then randomly assigned to situations where Carol took Bill’s last name, kept her maiden name, Sherman, or hyphenated to Sherman-Cook.

The survey asked how committed Carol was to her husband, how many days each week Bill should be OK with Carol working late and how justified Bill would be in divorcing Carol. On all three questions, Shafer found that almost all respondents did not think differently of the woman regardless of surname choice. Yet men with low education did think that Carol was less committed if she kept her name and that Bill would be more justified in divorcing her.

Shafer said she included information about Carol’s job as a way to eliminate bias for people who may think they were supposed to say that they do not care whether the woman changed

The results show that women may still get push back in their personal lives once they are seen as putting themselves before their marriage or their family, Shafer said. While people may not judge a woman who keeps her surname, they might have strong opinions as to what is best for a woman, Shafer added.

While Shafer’s overall findings indicate these perceptions around surname are changing somewhat, she still thinks the issue is here to stay, a  USA Today report on the study surmised.

“Surname choice is one of those things that has really stuck,” she said. “The changes in women’s personal lives are behind those in their professional lives.”

Super Bowl: Let’s Talk What’s Hot and Trending with Ads

Guest Post


With the big game one day away, the teams are focusing on their game plans and the advertisers are doing the same.  Although a Super Bowl ad is a yearly tradition for some companies, others save their entire ad budgets for the exposure.

Over the past 30 days, there have been more than 75,000 social posts related to Super Bowl Advertising, but 40,000 of those have been posted just in the past seven days, according to international social media analytics firm Talkwalker.

So, who’s leading the way in pre-game Super Bowl ad hype?  Over the past seven days, Snickers has been mentioned in relation to the Super Bowl 5,046 times, while Skittles comes in second at 4,444 and Mr. Clean 4,278.

Snickers is debuting what it is calling the first live Super Bowl commercial ever and the buzz around it has included more than 1.4 million YouTube views of the teaser. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JTGJCMoLAE

In its Super Bowl ad debut, Mr. Clean has gotten a lot of buzz with its new take on cleaning, with this USA Today post claiming “Mr. Clean Gets a Little Dirty in New Ad” and garnering more than 28,000 likes.


One company that has received a lot of attention is Heinz – for choosing to not advertise in this year’s big game, but instead investing that $5 million plus that it would have spent on an ad in giving its employees the day off the Monday after the Super Bowl, using the hashtag #smunday, a campaign to make Super Bowl Monday a national holiday.  Heinz may be on to something, as Super Bowl Monday as a national holiday sounds like a good idea to many Americans and the hashtag has caught on with more than 2,800 social posts in the past seven days.


With multiple ads for multiple brands, Anheuser Busch is getting a lot of mentions – but is still only in fifth place among brands mentioned.  But this trailer for its ad for Budweiser, racked up 23,000 Facebook views.


In the last 24 hours, no company has been mentioned more than Skittles, with more than 3,000 posts in just the past day, featuring Seattle Seahawks star Marshawn Lynch taking the candy to Houston, Scotland.


Among the top hashtags trending over the past week, Skittles’ #TasteTheRainbow has realized an increase of more than 4,000 percent in the past week, while Intel’s #ExperienceMore has jumped 143 percent.

Trending brands related to the Super Bowl include Mr. Clean, up 931 percent in the past week, Ford Motor Company up 274 percent and Super Bowl participant The New England Patriots, up 256 percent.

Talkwalker (www.talkwalker.com) is one of the world’s leading social data intelligence companies. Its cutting edge technology provides actionable social media insights through real-time social listening and advanced social media analytics. Talkwalker helps marketers to prove the value of their social efforts and significantly enhances the speed and accuracy of business decision-making. Talkwalker’s state of the art social intelligence platform monitors and analyzes online conversations on social networks, news websites, blogs, forums and more, in over 187 languages. Its 1500 servers process posts from 150 million websites every day. Talkwalker’s unique social intelligence software was selected to become a Twitter Official Partner in 2014.

National Donut Day: DIY Recipe & Where to Get A Free Donut Today

home made donuts

I cannot believe we’re back at National Donut Day again! It feels like we were just celebrating it moments ago! I picked up a couple of donuts for my eldest kid home from school after graduating from Middle School this week.  There are lots of donut shops giving away free donuts today.

USA Today has a list. Or…if you are adventurous and want to do it yourself, you can follow this recipe from MyHomeMadeHeaven.com.

  1. 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 4 Tbsp sugar
  3. 3 Tbsp butter, softened
  4. 1/2 tsp salt
  5. 1/2 cup milk or kefir
  6. 1 egg
  7. 2 tsp Active Dry Yeast
  8. 1/2 cup tangzhong (see just below-don’t worry, it’s super easy)
  9. Oil for frying
Tangzhong (also see picture above)
  1. 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  2. 1 cup water
  1. 3 cups powdered sugar
  2. 1/2 cup water or milk (I like to use water) (You can use less water if you want the glaze thicker- maybe start with 1/3 cup instead)
  3. 4 tsp vanilla
Get the rest of the Instructions Here!

Arizona Family Claims Pope Francis Cured Their Baby’s Heart Problems

pope miracle

This week, many in America on the East Coast are scrambling about for a chance to see or touch the Pope Francis during the pontif’s first official visit to the United States as the head of the Catholic Church

And now Reuters is reporting that a family in Phoenix, Arizona believes the Pope cured their ill baby with multiple health problems.

“The Pope healed our baby’s heart,” Lynn Cassidy told the service, explaining how her then 3-month old daughter, Ave, got better right after meeting the Pope.
She called the incident “as close to a miracle as we’ll ever see, I’m sure.”

Ave has Down syndrome and was born with eye problems, hearing complications and two holes in her heart.

During an Easter of 2014 family trip to Rome to see Francis in person during the canonization of John Paul II and John XXIII, they got in a rope line for a chance to meet him.

“It was raining,” Cassidy said,  she tells USA Today. “We were told that if we stood on a barricade in St. Peter’s Square, the metal fences in front, the Pope would  come by in his ‘Pope’-mobile.”
They waited long before the motorcade turned into union square and Ave’s  dad held her up in the air, reports say.
“It was like the Lion King,” Cassidy said of the encounter. “The secret service person, Johnny, stopped and took her from Scott and held her up to the Pope. The Pope asked my husband, ‘How old is she?
What’s her name?’ He told [the Pope] she has two holes in her heart. When we got home in May, we went back to the cardiologist for a check-up. One of the holes was completely closed and one was half the size.”

The family has a photo of the moment in their living room.

“I mean it’s possible that it closes just over time,” she said. “But when you see the picture that the professional photographer took, his hand is here and he’s a servant of God.”

After two eye surgeries, Ave now has two hearing aids, but her heart is healthy.

Kim Kardashian’s Rocky road to pregnancy- before and after

kim kardashian getty

This week, Kim Kardashian announced she and her husband Kanye West are expecting their second child. It was big news for less than a half a day when it was overshadowed by her step dad Bruce reveal in Vanity Fair magazine of his new transgender identity as Caitlyn Jenner.

Throughout all the amplified media attention over that news, Kardashian is dealing with severe morning sickness, USA Today reports . She appeared cool and collected rocking a black sheer and stud embellished Proenza Schouler dress with her hubby on the red carpet to Monday night’s CDFA Awards at the Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 1, 2015 in New York City.

In fact, the road to pregnancy and all involved with the state of pregnancy has been rocky for Kardashian.  The reality TV star battled harsh criticism over her weight gain and choice of maternity wear for the last pregnancy, then by its end she developed preeclamsia-triggered extreme high blood pressure. She had to have an emergency pre-term c-section caused by complications from that condition, and another problem with her uterine lining.

Then, on her journey to expand her family, the Keeping Up With the Kardashians cast member stumbled upon complications and experienced infertility for eight months before becoming successful with the help of in vitro fertiliztion.  A source to PEOPLE  magazine reported that the business mogul had to repair the lining of her uterus which was the source of a lot of her complications to conceive.

One has to just chuckle about the amount of reporting on one woman’s reproductive organs. Phew!

The family, which includes almost 2-year old Nori West, will welcome the new addition this December.


And of course, as could be expected, the comments and tweets came flowing in joking that this baby will be named, South West.

Funny stuff!

Dad blogger starts petition to turn ‘Amazon Mom’ to ‘Amazon Family’

After dad blogger Oren Miller of A Blogger and a Father passed away this past weekend, the lung cancer victim’s dad blogger pal Daniel Pelfrey took up on of Miller’s causes.
Pelfrey launched a petition to get Amazon.com’s Amazon Mom discount site to become Amazon Family. 
Pelfrey, who cares for he and his wife Laura’s 5 children full time while she works, created a Change.Org petition urging the company to change the name.
“Why are you choosing Amazon Mom instead of Amazon Family,” Daniel states in his petition addressing Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos. “It’s a small change, but it is, I think a significant one that Amazon could make to be inclusive to all families.”
Currently, Pelfrey has gotten about 6,000 out the targeted 10,000 signatures.
“To only act as if moms are the caregivers always struck me as odd,” Daniel told USA Today.

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Online retailer to sell baby bottles resembling a beer bottle

An online novelty gift company is set to release a baby bottle designed like a beer bottle. It is alarming child advocacy organizations.
Perpetual Kid revealed that starting next month, it will begin selling the Chill, Baby Lil Lager Baby Bottle for $11.99. The company says it is marketing a “hilarious” way to take nursing “to a new level.”
Some consider it funny but others like director of  the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism find it alarming.
“While a baby probably would not make the association between the baby bottle and beer bottles, older children in the house might, so we would argue that this could be an indirect promotion of underage drinking,” George F. Koob wrote to USA TODAY in an e-mail.
Your thoughts? Innocent fun or dangerous prop that sends wrong message?

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