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Grandmother of 12 earns bachelor's degree at 57

A 57-year-old grandmother of 12 will fulfill one of her dreams Saturday, when she'll graduate from college with a bachelor's degree. 

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The last four years have not been easy for Darlene Pitts, of Norfolk, Virginia.

A hardworking woman in pursuit of higher education, Pitts earned an associate's degree from a community college in December 2011.

The next year, she enrolled in a program at Norfolk State University with the hopes of earning another degree.

During the course of the program, Pitts, who was working two jobs, was placed on academic probation. At one point, she wasn't sure if she'd be able to complete the coursework.

"I came to work in tears because I got a letter saying I was on academic probation,” Pitts told The Virginia-Pilot. "Some of the classes, they were really rough. I was ready to throw in the towel. I just wanted to call it quits, but I just hung in there."

But instead of giving up, Pitts quit her job at a Kroger grocery store and focused on her schoolwork and her job as a special education teaching assistant at a local high school. She started working with a tutor, too.

"It was a rough four years," Pitts said. "But I still hung in there."

This weekend, Pitts will graduate with a bachelor's degree in psychology. She hopes to become a full-time special education teacher, but has no plans to end her career as a student. She wants to get a master's degree in special education.

"I love being in a classroom," she told the Virginia-Pilot. "I love being a student."

Until then, one of her granddaughters is practicing for how she'll cheer for her grandmother at Saturday's ceremony.

"It's a high-pitched scream," Pitts said. "It's a glass-shatterer."

Congrats to future NSU graduate Darlene Pitts. The NSU Commencement Ceremony will be held on Dec. 10. http://ow.ly/wjsm306PWQg #nsugrad16Posted by Norfolk State University on Monday, December 5, 2016

Someone put up a ‘satanic display’ in Boca Raton

A “satanic display” of a pentagram with a nearby banner and sign were placed in Sanborn Square in Boca Raton, Florida, overnight and are causing a stir in the surrounding faith community, according to a local church.

Not far from the display are a Biblical nativity scene, a Christmas tree and a menorah. The banner and sign, which appear to have been covered in spray paint overnight, once read “In Satan We Trust” and “Celebrate Winter Solstice,” based on images of the original display circulating online.

>> Read more trending stories 

The display prompted St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church and the a local interfaith organization to release a statement. They plan to post another banner at the park this morning.

The church banner will read the following: “The Interfaith religious community honors our constitutional rights of freedom of speech and worship. We are blessed to live in a country that cherishes and protects these rights. The use of satanic symbols is offensive, and harmful to our community’s well being. We find it a shameful and hypocritical way to advocate for freedom from religion.”

The square is designated by the city as a free-speech zone.

Boca Raton Mayor Susan Haynie visited Sanborn Square on Wednesday morning to support the interfaith community’s decision to erect a banner near the scene.

“I find (the satanic display) offensive,” Haynie said. “However, the same constitutional right to freedom of speech that allows the church to display the nativity scene also allows for this objectionable symbol.”

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Boy, 9, says Santa Claus fat shamed him, said to 'lay off the burgers and fries'

A Rutherford County woman said her son left his visit to Santa Claus in tears because the man made fun of his weight. 

Ashley Mayse said she wished she'd never brought Anthony, 9, to talk to the Santa employed by Forest City, Channel 9's partner, WLOS, reported. 

>> Read more trending stories

Anthony posed for a picture with Santa and shared his Christmas list, but the man's final comments caused Anthony to later tear up the picture with the not-so-jolly character.

"And when it got done, he said, ‘Lay off the hamburgers and french fries’ and that really just disrespected me, and I felt awful," Anthony said. 

Ashley Mayse said the man acted disinterested throughout the entire visit.

"Very rude. I've never seen anything like it," Ashley Mayse told WLOS. "What set me off is when he [Anthony] started crying."

The town manager said the man has since apologized to the mall supervisor and the family. It's not clear if he is still on the job. 

"It affected me so bad that I was crying until I went to bed that night," Anthony said. "And I want to say to him, 'You don't want to disrespect a 9-year-old. Even though what shape and size you are, it doesn't matter.'"

Ashley Mayse said she hopes the town fires the Santa, so no other children will be hurt like her son. 

One Major Benefit of Going Full Bush

When it comes to grooming down there, the choice to shave, wax, or go full bush seems to be nothing more than personal preference. But a new study found that people who shave or wax their nether regions have a 75 percent higher risk of developing an STI. Trimming your pubic hair can cause microtears in your skin—easy spots for bacteria and viruses to get into your system. (A lovely image, we know.) But before you freak out, there's an important caveat. Most people—two in three men and four in five women—tidy up their pubic hair. And the people in the study who groomed reported having sex more often, which also increases the risk of contracting an STI. One thing the study didn't look at? Condom usage, which just so happens to be one of the easiest ways to lower your risk of getting an STI. So practice safe sex (duh) and maybe cut back on waxing and shaving.

Uh-Oh, Shaving Your Pubic Hair Could Put You at Risk for Getting an STI

When it comes to grooming down there, the choice to shave, wax, or go full bush seems to be nothing more than personal preference. But a new study found that people who shave or wax their nether regions have a 75 percent higher risk of developing an STI. Trimming your pubic hair can cause microtears in your skin—easy spots for bacteria and viruses to get into your system. (A lovely image, we know.) But before you freak out, there's an important caveat. Most people—two in three men and four in five women—tidy up their pubic hair. And the people in the study who groomed reported having sex more often, which also increases the risk of contracting an STI. One thing the study didn't look at? Condom usage, which just so happens to be one of the easiest ways to lower your risk of getting an STI. So practice safe sex (duh) and maybe cut back on waxing and shaving.

Woman claims Trump's election put her desire for a relationship on hold

In an op-ed that appeared in The Washington Post, one woman said that Donald Trump's election "stole (her) desire to look for a partner."

>> Read more trending stories  

The op-ed discussed the woman's life as a single mother and promising dates that she had been on in the last few months.

"In August, I went on six dates in one week. I had decided that I was ready to look for a partner," Stephanie Land wrote. "Of the six first dates I had in August, two men seemed promising ... But two weeks later, the election happened."

Land wrote that after Election Day, her interest in finding a life partner wasn't as important as it had been in previous months. She said she was less hopeful and wanted to focus on her family. 

"Once it was clear that Donald Trump would be president instead of Hillary Clinton, I felt sick to my stomach," Land wrote. "I wanted to gather my children in bed with me and cling to them like we would if thunder and lightning were raging outside, with winds high enough that the power might go out. The world felt that precarious to me."

Land wrote that she had to explain the election results to her children after having told them that Clinton would win.

"My oldest (child) came out of her room the next morning to show me the money the Tooth Fairy had left her. She'd unexpectedly had to have a tooth pulled and so bravely went through it that I said, 'Just think: You'll always remember the day you got a tooth pulled with the day we elected our first female president,'" Land wrote. "When I told her Trump had won, she protested: 'But Mom. You said Hillary was going to win.'"

Land, who said that she had begun to date a man regularly, said her "urge to cling to (her) family ... didn't mesh well with continuing to date the man."

So she ended the relationship. 

"He was too new, too unfamiliar," Land wrote. "My focus had to be on my community of friends that are my family. I need to fiercely love the people close to me instead of learning to love someone new. To reach out to others could weaken the bonds that hold my family together.

"I've lost the desire to attempt the courtship phase. The future is uncertain. I am not the optimistic person I was on the morning of Nov. 8, wearing a T-shirt with 'Nasty Woman' written inside a red heart. It makes me want to cry thinking of that (and) of seeing my oldest in the shirt I bought her in Washington, D.C., that says 'Future President.'"

Read more at The Washington Post.

Tim McGraw's mom pays off layaway orders at Florida Walmart

A country music superstar's mother made a difference for several families this holiday season.

Tim McGraw's mother, Betty Trimble, made sure some deserving families have a merry Christmas.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

Trimble paid off several customers' layaway orders Tuesday at the Walmart in Macclenny, Florida.

Shopper Deborah Jackson said Trimble told people she was playing Secret Santa and was excited to pay the layaway balances.

>> Read more trending stories

Another shopper, Jessica Lumpkin, said she didn't even have anything on layaway, but Trimble handed her a card with $30 in it and told her to buy something for her daughter.

Trimble has ties to Northeast Florida. She went to Terry Parker High School in Jacksonville, and her mother lived in Glen St. Mary.

<script>(function(d, s, id) {</span><br /><span>  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];</span><br /><span>  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;</span><br /><span>  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;</span><br /><span>  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&amp;version=v2.8";</span><br /><span>  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);</span><br /><span>}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script> The cards that held the paid layaway receipts were signed "Merry Christmas, Tim McGraw & Faith Hill Family"Posted by Action News Jacksonville on Tuesday, December 6, 2016

7 Dairy-Free Eggnog Recipes That Aren't Just Holiday Milkshakes

If you had one sip of eggnog 10 years ago and proclaimed it disgusting, lemme finish. While real-deal eggnog is thick and rich, omitting the cream and eggs (yes, we get the irony) is actually the key to nailing this drink. These dairy-free nogs and nog-based eats are the quickest way to feel festive during the so-called most wonderful time of the year. Not feeling so holly-jolly this season? We love this blogger's advice on how to get through the holidays: “It’s at the bottom of a glass filled with eggnog and straight up brandy. Drink up.” 1. Vegan Almond Eggnog The easiest dairy-free eggnog recipe is right here (you’re welcome): Simply mix almond milk, light coconut milk, maple syrup, and spices in a saucepan, then reduce until slightly thickened. Serve with cookies and friends on the side. 2. Vegan Eggnog Ice Cream Sandwiches Soaked cashews and mushy ripe bananas make a thick base for this nog ice cream. While a triple scoop will get the job done, why not smash that spiced ice cream between two freshly baked gingersnap cookies? Why not, indeed. 3. Vegan Nog Pie For those who’d rather slice into their nog, listen up: Grab a bottle of vegan eggnog and turn it into custard pie (hell to the yeah!). Since this is a cold custard, the filled pie doesn’t have to be baked—however, make sure you let the pie chill for a full 12 hours before throwing it in the freezer for its final firming stage. We promise it’s worth the wait. 4. Vegan Banana Eggnog Pancakes We can’t think of a winter breakfast more festive than these eggnog pancakes. Sweet with bananas (and your favorite vegan eggnog, duh), we think the best way to enjoy these pancakes is to make as many batches as we have eggnog recipes. Brb, we're heating up the griddle. 5. Vegan Pecan Eggnog Raw vegan... eggnog? Oh yes, it’s possible. Plus, this version takes about 30 seconds from ingredients to sip. Blend rich pecans with fat dates, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Extra points if you use a cinnamon stick as a straw. 6. Coconut and Cashew Eggnog For an uber-creamy dairy-free eggnog, soak cashews overnight until soft. Blend with rich coconut milk, maple syrup, and dates—and a pinch of salt to balance all that cream and sweet. Add a three-second pour of brandy, and you’re good to go. 7. Vegan Eggnog Steel-Cut Oats Eggnog for breakfast? Yes please! Mix your favorite eggnog recipe into a pan of nutty steel-cut oats, maple syrup, and cinnamon. Cook until creamy, then serve with your favorite oatmeal toppings—and another glug of eggnog, obviously.

29 Easy Recipes to Help You Stick to Your Healthy-Eating Resolutions

'Tis the season for stuffing our faces. Whether it’s with a few extra slices of pie here or several celebratory glasses of wine there, we all know the feeling. And while there shouldn’t be any guilt for enjoying it all, there’s no denying that those little indulgences can add up to a sluggish start to the new year. But instead of taking extreme measures that are destined to fall flat, like boycotting carbs or counting every last calorie (there’s a reason 80 percent of health and fitness-related New Year’s resolutions don’t last beyond the first month!), here are 29 more realistic—and more fun—ways to get back on track: I'm talking about simple, sensible meals that require just five main ingredients (or less), making it even easier to stick to your healthy-eating plan come January. Beef/Pork 1. Breakfast Sausage Egg Cups With Spinach and Parmesan Photo: Kevin is Cooking Cook once, eat all week—aren’t those the best kinds of recipes? Packed with spinach, cheese, and sourdough, these muffin versions of scrambled eggs and toast save you from dirtying dishes every morning and provide a complete, balanced breakfast that’s portable too. 2. 5-Ingredient Italian Sausage and Kale Baked Ziti Photo: Gimme Some Oven If you’re going to use only five ingredients to make a meal, making sure cheese, sausage, and pasta are three of them is a good start. In the absence of tomato sauce, kale lends the dish its veggie component, while lots of garlic is really all you need for extra flavor. 3. Thai Peanut Beef Photo: Le Creme De La Crumb When peanut butter is involved, you don’t really need much else, which is why it takes only three other ingredients to make a fantastically flavorful sauce for beef strips. Unlike other super-sweet peanut sauces, this one calls for just a tablespoon of brown sugar, while Sriracha gives it a spicy kick. 4. Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos Photo: A Cedar Spoon Even with the addition of tortillas (or lettuce wraps, or your other taco vehicle of choice), this recipe clocks in at just five main ingredients. Plus, the slow-cooker method means that you don’t have to be around to babysit the beef as it simmers down to shreddable tenderness. 5. Honey Dijon Roasted Pork Tenderloin Photo: The Seasoned Mom Tenderloin might be one of the leanest cuts of pork, but when it’s slathered in a homemade honey-mustard sauce and roasted, getting crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, it tastes totally decadent. Oh, and it needs only five minutes of prep before the oven does the actual cooking. 6. Shredded Crock-Pot Roast Beef With Pumpkin and Salsa Photo: Food Faith Fitness Healthy conveniences such as canned pumpkin and ready-made salsa make up most of the ingredients in this shredded beef recipe, making prep time a cinch. Throw everything in the Crock-Pot to make the cooking process just as easy. 7. Slow Cooker Apple Butter Pork Chops Photo: Honest Cooking This recipe takes a fruity but buttery pork chop dinner from stove to table in just 15 minutes. No-sugar-added applesauce and caramelized onions give the meat just enough sweetness, and whole-grain mustard adds just enough zing. See? Making a healthy meal is possible even when you’re short on time! 8. 5-Ingredient Chorizo Spaghetti Squash Pasta Photo: Hold the Grain Light strands of spaghetti squash balance out the richness of chorizo, while soaking in the flavors from the tomato and basil sauce. It may be lower in carbs, but the dish still makes you feel like you’re digging into a hearty pile of pasta. Poultry 9. 5-Ingredient Chicken Feta Pasta Photo: Well Plated From the fettuccini to the herby tomato sauce, all the ingredients in this light but filling dish cook in a single pan (yay for easy cleanup)! Plus, each serving provides an impressive 19 grams of protein and six grams of fiber; how’s that for a well-balanced dish? 10. 5-Ingredient Caprese Chicken Photo: Seasonal Cravings Who says only salads can get the caprese treatment? The tomato, basil, and mozzarella combo tastes just as good on top of chicken—don’t forget the balsamic drizzle! 11. Mango Chicken Breakfast Sausage Photo: Heart Beet Kitchen Little chunks of mango are like sweet surprises between the savory bites of chicken in these adorable mini patties. Pile them on a bed of greens for a light meal that comes together in just 20 minutes. 12. Rockin’ 5-Ingredient Sweet Potato Turkey Chili Photo: Heart Beet Kitchen Many chilis require a ton of ingredients (not to mention a lot of time chopping all those veggies). This one strips the comfort food recipe down to its bare essentials—but packed with sweet potatoes, black beans, and ground turkey, it’s as hearty as ever. 13. 5-Ingredient Turkey Meatballs Photo: Real Food Whole Life Using almond flour instead of bread crumbs for binding, these turkey meatballs aren’t just lean and protein packed, they’re also gluten-free. Chopped peppers thrown into the mix give them a burst of color along with added vitamins. Eat them any way you like your meatballs. 14. 5-Ingredient Lemon Yogurt Marinated Chicken Photo: Ambitious Kitchen Most marinades require hours of soaking time, but this one has so many tangy, spicy flavors from the Greek yogurt and lemon juice that the chicken needs to sit in it for as little as 20 minutes. Quick and easy, it goes perfectly with pretty much any side dish, from rice to salad. Seafood 15. Honey Garlic Shrimp Skillet Photo: The Cooking Jar When you’re working with a literal handful of ingredients, you’ve got to make them count. Ginger, garlic, honey, and soy sauce are all definitely bold enough flavors—use them as a sauce for shrimp, and you won’t need anything else. 16. Honey Mustard Pecan-Crusted Salmon Photo: Joyful Healthy Eats Crusted fish of any kind sounds complicated, but this recipe, which calls for just five ingredients and fewer than 20 minutes, is anything but. Super healthy and super elegant, this one’s a keeper for both busy weeknights and weekend entertaining. 17. Mediterranean Tuna Salad Photo: A Clean Bake This salad may look like it’s got a long ingredient list, but trust us—there are just five main components, and the rest are spices you’re likely to have lying around already. Even better is the fact that there’s literally no cooking involved. Just toss everything in a bowl, mix thoroughly, and call it lunch or dinner. 18. 5-Ingredient Baked Cod Photo: The Scrumptious Pumpkin Garlic and sage together make a pretty dynamic duo. Put them on thick pieces of cod and let the oven work its magic. Just 20 minutes later, you’ll be digging into a perfectly flaky and herby fish dinner. 19. Shrimp Salad With Zucchini Noodles, Lemon, Garlic, and Feta Cheese Photo: Mother Rimmy If end-of-year indulgences leave you feeling kind of blah, pick yourself back up with a meal full of protein and fresh produce, like this one. Spiralized zucchini, shrimp, and low-fat feta are topped with a no-cook sauce of olive oil and lemon for a dish that’s a refreshing antidote to all the heavy holiday fare. 20. Orange Maple Salmon Photo: Nutritioulicious If you’ve never tried pairing fish with fruity flavors, start easy with this recipe. Just a tablespoon of fresh orange juice goes a long way toward giving the salmon a sweet, citrusy tang without being overpowering. 21. Quick and Easy Sumptuous Salmon Photo: No Gojis No Glory Who wouldn’t give a recipe with a title like this a shot? It’s not all talk either—pan-cooked and topped with a sauce made from chili paste, soy sauce, and honey, this salmon is fast, simple, and sumptuous indeed. Meatless 22. Kale Butternut Squash Salad Photo: Stephanie Sain Here’s a recipe that proves it doesn’t take much to make healthy eating easy. Toss in some cranberries, roasted veggies, and some crumbled cheese, and even people who scoff at salads will want in on it. 23. Easy Swiss Chard Stir-Fry Photo: Omnivore's Dilemma Stir-fries are fast and easy by definition, but many involve chopping lots of veggies and complicated sauces. This one is on a whole other level of simple, using just Swiss chard and garlic and calling for a mere five minutes of cooking time. Speediest stir-fry ever. 24. Vegan Roasted Tomato Pasta With Garlic and Basil Photo: Cilantro and Citronella When pasta isn’t doused in creamy sauce, it can most definitely help you get your healthy eating on. Take this spaghetti recipe—tossed with lots of fresh cherry tomatoes, garlic, and basil in a light olive oil base, it’s highly unlikely to send you into a food coma. 25. Roasted Potato Salad With Dijon Vinaigrette Photo: Dinner Then Dessert Potato salad isn’t just for picnics! Here’s a healthy version, best served warm. The spuds are baked instead of boiled, while the dressing swaps out the mayo for olive oil, and the addition of chopped red peppers give the dish a welcome pop of color. 26. 5-Ingredient Vegetable Frittata Photo: Sweet Phi Fair game for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, frittatas are the ultimate convenience meal. This one goes classic with cheddar cheese, tomatoes, and peppers, but really, go with the veggies you have on hand. After all, the beauty of a frittata is its versatility. 27. 5-Ingredient Mexican Quinoa Photo: Simply Quinoa Canned beans and corn plus a jar of salsa (check out our favorite all-natural brands!) help dress up this quinoa dish in just 15 minutes. Stir it all on the stovetop, and it’s ready for serving. Putting a hot meal on the table doesn’t get much easier than that. 28. Healthy Kale and Quinoa Bowl Photo: Kara Lydon Even counting the cooking time for the quinoa, this recipe comes together in fewer than 30 minutes. Plus, there are really only three main components here, leaving you room to toss in slivered nuts or cheese and still come in under the five-ingredient mark. 29. Cauliflower and Tofu Curry Photo: Infinite Balance Craving Thai curry but not in the mood to shop for (or cook with) all the ingredients it requires? Don’t deprive yourself; just make this. Red curry paste is the main flavoring agent here, and just two tablespoons can make cauliflower and tofu taste like a dish straight from the streets of Bangkok.

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