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Crib notes: One Texas mom gets punished...for spanking

These days, spanking your child could get you five years probation and mandatory parenting classes. That's the punishment one judge in Texas handed out to a mom who spanked her almost-two-year-old daughter recently, along with the admonishment that "You don’t spank children today. In the old days, maybe we got spanked, but there was a different quarrel. You don't spank children." The mom was arrested back in December after her daughter's grandmother noticed red marks on the child's bottom and took her to the hospital. Remember, keep your hands to yourselves, folks.

Everyone expects politicians to kiss babies but President Obama went even further recently and managed to instantly calm a fussy baby with ease. While seeing him stop a baby from crying is sweet, the interaction between the First Lady and the President in this video is priceless. Michelle Obama, who'd been holding the crying baby before handing him off to the President, gave her a husband an "Oh no you didn't" look of disbelief when the baby stopped bawling. He responded with a rather smug "Oh, yes I did. I'm that good," look. If the 2012 election doesn't go his way, President Obama can always ditch politics and become a baby whisperer.

When the clock strikes five minutes to six in the evening, the ominous witching hour officially begins. That's the time of day when mothers are frantically trying to get dinner on the table or shuttle kids to and from one practice or another, while kids seem to simply melt down and be at their worst. What has long been anecdotally accepted has now been confirmed by a survey of mothers -- the six o'clock hour is a bad time for mothering. Now, as moms reach for a glass of wine, they might be heard to say "It's five to six somewhere."

Cigarette warning labels are about to get a lot more graphic. The Food and Drug Administration recently approved new warning labels for cigarette packages that include graphic and disturbing images including photos of rotting teeth and diseased lungs. Some are concerned that the images are too raw, while others think they might finally be the effective warning teens need to prevent them from starting a nicotine habit. What do you think -- are the warnings overboard or just what the doctor ordered?

Are American moms the worst mothers on earth or do we just feel like we are? Earlier this year we were bombarded with the self-proclaimed superior Chinese mom and her ultra-strict parenting style. Now, an American mother living in Paris is saying that French moms are better than us too. Actually, they might just be easier on themselves than we are. According to this ex-pat, French mothers don't experience guilt like their American counterparts, they feel free to yell at their kids with abandon, and most importantly, they don't strive for "perfection" like American moms. This insight has some wondering how the institutional differences and support moms receive by their respective governments affects mothers' attitudes towards their roles.

Dana Macario is a TODAY Moms contributor and Seattle mom to two sleep-depriving toddlers. She is currently developing an alarm clock that will start an IV coffee drip 10 minutes prior to wake-up time. Once properly caffeinated, she also blogs at www.18years2life.com.