Caught on Tape: The Elf on the Shelf Comes Alive

Keeping up with the Elf on the Shelf is hard enough before Christmas. But how many of us forget to take him down and send him back to Santa and the elves? One week after Christmas and our poor “Tiddlywinks” has been left hanging.

See what happens when our Elf on the Shelf gets fed up and takes matters into his own hands!

Vince Vaughn in Delivery Man

Exclusive Look: Delivery Man

What role does biology play in a “real” family?

Vince Vaughn’s latest role has triggered that question for me — once again. In Disney’s upcoming film, Delivery Man, Vaughn plays “an affable underachiever looking for his purpose in life,” when he finds out he’s fathered 533 children through anonymous donations to a fertility clinic 20 years ago. Now he must decide whether or not to come forward when 142 of them want to meet their biological father.”

Yes, the film is a comedy (rated PG-13 so don’t bring your littles) but it’s got a heartwarming element to it as Vaughn’s character searches for something more meaningful.

On a separate but related note, the film brings up the topic of nature vs. nurture — a question that’s always been one I can’t help but ponder.

Here’s my question to you: No matter how loving/fulfilling/etc. one’s life may ultimately be, if we aren’t raised by those we’re biologically connected to, will there always be some sort of loss in our hearts? Discuss.

I personally can’t wait to see the film, just to see the hilarious Robin Scherbatsky Cobie Smulders.

PS: Thanks to Disney for the exclusive look at the trailer.


Girls and Long Hair: What Message Are We Sending?

I grew up hating my hair. Mousy brown (that’s right, I was not born with this vibrant ever-changing grey red hair), super fine, lifeless… I dreamed of having bouncy, shiny hair like those orgasmic beauties in the shampoo commercials. It’s probably why I’ve had no problem trying so many different styles throughout my lifetime — no matter how bad it gets, it can’t be much worse than the hair I was born with.


Photo credit: Renee Bowen Photography

So when I was blessed with my daughter, I latched onto her black, thick, shiny Asian hair like she was Rapunzel and I was desperately climbing for my one chance to experience long, flowing, gorgeous locks. Seriously, her hair is perfect.

So when she started talking about cutting it short several months back, I would nod and smile and know that it just wasn’t going to happen. A few months ago, she stepped up her game, telling anyone who’d listen how she wanted a Mohawk. As I do when she asks for something that’s absolutely out of the question, I told her she could have one when she was 14.

I was pretty confident in my decision… until the doubt began to creep in. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t she have super short hair that she could style into a “fauxhawk”? Sorry, I don’t do Mohawks with my boys either — it’s not happening. I realized that I was projecting my own self doubt and insecurities onto my strong, sassy daughter. If she wants her hair cut, who am I to stop it from happening? Yes, kids might tease her… you know it happens. But the only thing worse than that is teaching her that she should make choices in life solely based on how other people (not even people she cares about) might perceive them.

Around the same time I had begun to doubt myself for being so rigid, I read an interview that Jada Pinkett Smith gave to People. While I’m not one to usually jump on what celebrities do or how they parent their children, Jada’s words about her own daughter Willow’s hair really moved, and stuck, with me.

This is a world where women, girls are constantly reminded that they don’t belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power or self determination.

Willow cuts her hair because her beauty, her value, her worth is not measured by the length of her hair. Even little girls have the RIGHT to own themselves and should not be a slave to even their mother’s deepest insecurities, hopes and desires.

She’s so right. We try to teach our daughters to love their bodies, no matter the size. We want to empower girls to respect themselves and not give their bodies away in exchange for a few minutes of feeling accepted and loved. But how can we teach them to make strong, independent decisions about their own selves when society, peers (and yes, even parents) are sending mixed messages that it’s okay to be yourself but only if you fit into what others deem beautiful?

I realized I was absolutely wrong and I told my daughter just that. I explained that while we weren’t going to go for the buzzed on the sides, long on the top full Mohawk, we were absolutely okay with her going for the short “pixie” type hair that she can then style into a fauxhawk when she feels inspired to do so. I told her that she was beautiful, inside and out, and it’s more than okay — it’s important — for her to be able to express who she is in creative, positive ways. If that means chopping off her hair, her dad and I were all for it.

But we had only one request. Since her hair was already so long (yet not long enough to meet the donation requirements) we asked that she wait a few more months to get her locks to a length that could be cut and donated to Wigs for Kids. I explained how there are kids who have no hair, for a variety of reasons, and would be so happy to receive a wig made from my daughter’s beautiful hair.

With a big smile on her face, she agreed — she was in.

So she waited… and it grew… and grew.

















It grew so long, it was constantly annoying her… in her face as she slept… the pony tail flopping around during gymnastics. She couldn’t wait for her hair to be cut. So this morning, we headed out to make it happen.

haircutI was worried that she’d regret cutting it all off but the smile on her face told me otherwise. It was bittersweet, seeing her so happy yet knowing that it was me and my stuff that kept her from feeling this for way too long. It was as if a weight were being lifted off her shoulders — I was finally seeing her for who she is and it felt so good.

Of course it wouldn’t be a hair post without the dramatic “after” shots. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present… my daughter.

















Weigh in: When I asked on Facebook whether parents would be willing to hand over control of their kids’ appearance, most of you said absolutely not. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Caine's Arcade

Our Trip to Caine’s Arcade

Since the kids were on Spring Break last week, we decided (for the first time ever) to both take the week off and enjoy nine precious days together. While every moment with three kids wasn’t what I’d call “precious,” the week did include some major highlights.

I plan to break our “staycation” down in a future post, providing reviews on hotels and activities in southern California. But one of the most memorable experiences of the week together turned out to be low-cost yet high-impact.

You’ve probably seen this video of Caine’s Arcade before. I was late to the party and just stumbled across it when a friend posted it on Facebook in late March. Posted a year ago this week, it’s about a little boy who took over his father’s east L.A. auto parts store when he made an arcade entirely out of cardboard. His very first customer, a man by the name of Nirvan Mullick, happened upon the arcade when on the search for a door handle for his car.

I was so moved by the video, I called the kids in to see it. Within seconds, they were absolutely glued to the computer with big grins, in awe of the little boy with the big smile. Even my husband was emotional while watching (of course he insists it was dusty in the room).

Caine’s Arcade from Nirvan Mullick on Vimeo.

Living in the Los Angeles area, we decided to take a drive on our first day of Spring Break to Caine’s Arcade, hoping to meet the creative genius himself. Just off the freeway on the way downtown, it took 20 minutes and several trips around the block to finally find a parking spot on the busy city street, with the kids giggling in the back seat in anticipation of what they were about to see.

As we walked up to the arcade, I immediately noticed the man who had catapulted Caine to stardom (seriously, Justin Timberlake tweeted about this kid). We stepped up to purchase three fun passes and that’s when Caine, himself, appeared to handle the transaction.


Jacob plays basketball at Caine’s Arcade


Brady having a great time at Caine’s Arcade.

With only a few minutes to spend before Caine was closing up shop for the day, the kids tried out a few games before we asked to take a photo with the mini celebrity.


Jacob, inspired by what he sees at Caine’s Arcade


Lucy, looking to beat the claw machine at Caine’s Arcade


Meeting the mastermind behind Caine’s Arcade. “I can’t believe we’re seeing you in real life,” Jacob gushed.












As we walked back to the car, Lucy had an idea. Having just seen the Easter Bunny before we made the trip to Caine’s Arcade (with a man making balloon animals to pass the time in line), she decided she wanted to give her “balloon sword” to Caine, thanking him for sharing his special gift with them by sharing something special to her in return.


We all look on as Lucy runs up to share her “balloon sword” with Caine.

For part two of Caine’s Arcade and to donate to Caine’s scholarship fund, visit