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Inclusivity

Little girl in a wheelchair gets her very own matching Elf on the Shelf, created by mom

elf on a shelf, elf on a shelf wheelchair

@stronglikestella on Instagram

Stella was born with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), causing her to need a wheelchair.

When she received her first Barbie, also in a wheelchair, her mother Samantha Lackey saw a spark in her self-esteem, according to Good Morning America.

So as Christmas time rolled in this year, Lackey decided to take a classic holiday tradition and give it a creative, more inclusive spin.

And thus, Bean, Stella’s Elf on the Shelf, became a wheelchair user as well.

With his purple chair and bright pink foot holders, Bean is practically Stella's twin. And having the best time.


Stella and Bean even share the same activities, like rock climbing

Stella regularly climbs the rock wall while at occupational therapy. And with a few craft supplies, Bean climbs too!

Or using a G-tube

Lackey shared on Instagram that Stella has since moved on from her gastronomy tube, but still had some leftover syringes.

Being an elf, Bean, of course, is supplemented with hot cocoa.

And winter time pool parties

So. Many. Floaties.

Just all around embracing the finer things in life

The caption “sELF care Sunday” is just too clever not to share.

Bean also helps Samantha speak up for the disabled community...

Lackey often posts her clever Bean pics alongside informational—and inspiring—captions, like this one:

“Did you know the disabled community makes up 25% of the worlds population. Making it the largest minority group in the world AND one that you can join at any point in your life. We’ve learned how important representation is to raising a daughter with a disability. We’ve also seen how immensely UNDER represented disability really is in our lives. REAL disability, not Drake in a wheelchair (😬) We, as allies need to do better for the generations we’re raising. Normalize disability. Have conversations. Grow relationships. Fight for equal rights and pay. Amplify voices. Focus on mental health.”

...making big topics elf-sized

Lackey shared with GMA that starting a conversation about disability can be overwhelming, especially for parents who never grew up needing to have them. So starting small, with toys and books that better normalize disability, makes the subject easier to approach, both for kids and parents.

It might be a “silly little tradition,” but after seeing the immensely positive impact it has had for Stella, Lackey calls the decision a “no-brainer.”

"We make it a lot harder on ourselves," Lackey told GMA. "If we start with small conversations, whether it be Elf on the Shelf or inclusive toys or a character in a book that they see, or on their favorite TV show, that's just going to help a future generation be inclusive and be kind and be good humans.”

Christmas, 2022?

As for whether or not Lackey plans for Bean to return next Christmas, she’s already let folks on Instagram know that, yes, he will definitely be making a comeback. Perhaps next time, “with pyrotechnics—who knows?”

You can follow Stella, Bean, Samantha, and all their holiday shenanigans on Instagram by following @stronglikestella.

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

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Architectural Digest/Youtube

This house was made with love.

Celebrity home tours are usually a divisive topic. Some find them fun and inspirational. Others find them tacky or out of touch. But this home tour has seemingly brought unanimous joy to all.

“Stranger Things” actor David Harbour and British singer-songwriter Lily Allen, whose Vegas wedding in 2020 came with an Elvis impersonator, gave a tour of their delightfully quirky Brooklyn townhouse for Architectural Digest, and people were absolutely loving it.

For one thing, the house just looks cool. There’s nothing monotone or minimalist about it. No beige to be seen.

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Pop Culture

Buffy Sainte-Marie shares what led to her openly breastfeeding on 'Sesame Street' in 1977

The way she explained to Big Bird what she was doing is still an all-time great example.

"Sesame Street" taught kids about life in addition to letters and numbers.

In 1977, singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie did something revolutionary: She fed her baby on Sesame Street.

The Indigenous Canadian-Ameican singer-songwriter wasn't doing anything millions of other mothers hadn't done—she was simply feeding her baby. But the fact that she was breastfeeding him was significant since breastfeeding in the United States hit an all-time low in 1971 and was just starting to make a comeback. The fact that she did it openly on a children's television program was even more notable, since "What if children see?" has been a key pearl clutch for people who criticize breastfeeding in public.

But the most remarkable thing about the "Sesame Street" segment was the lovely interchange between Big Bird and Sainte-Marie when he asked her what she was doing.

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Health

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to run their YouthLine teen crisis hotline

“Each volunteer gets more than 60 hours of training, and master’s level supervisors are constantly on standby in the room.”

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to man YouthLine teen crisis hotline

Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

Mental health is a top-of-mind issue for a lot of people. Thanks to social media and people being more open about their struggles, the stigma surrounding seeking mental health treatment appears to be diminishing. But after the social and emotional interruption of teens due the pandemic, the mental health crises among adolescents seem to have jumped to record numbers.

PBS reports that Oregon is "ranked as the worst state for youth mental illness and access to care." But they're attempting to do something about it with a program that trains teenagers to answer crisis calls from other teens. They aren't alone though, as there's a master's level supervisor at the ready to jump in if the call requires a mental health professional.

The calls coming into the Oregon YouthLine can vary drastically, anywhere from relationship problems to family struggles, all the way to thoughts of self-harm and suicide. Teens manning the phones are provided with 60 hours of training and are taught to recognize when the call needs to be taken over by the adult supervisor.

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Family

Mom shares her brutal experience with 'hyperemesis gravidarum' and other moms can relate

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a severe case of morning sickness that can last up until the baby is born and might require medical attention.

@emilyboazman/TikTok

Hyperemesis gravidarum isn't as common as regular morning sickness, but it's much more severe.

Morning sickness is one of the most commonly known and most joked about pregnancy symptoms, second only to peculiar food cravings. While unpleasant, it can often be alleviated to a certain extent with plain foods, plenty of fluids, maybe some ginger—your typical nausea remedies. And usually, it clears up on its own by the 20-week mark. Usually.

But sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes moms experience stomach sickness and vomiting, right up until the baby is born, on a much more severe level.

Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), isn’t as widely talked about as regular morning sickness, but those who go through it are likely to never forget it. Persistent, extreme nausea and vomiting lead to other symptoms like dehydration, fainting, low blood pressure and even jaundice, to name a few.

Emily Boazman, a mom who had HG while pregnant with her third child, showed just how big of an impact it can make in a viral TikTok.

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The cast of TLC's "Sister Wives."

Dating is hard for just about anyone. But it gets harder as people age because the dating pool shrinks and older people are more selective. Plus, changes in dating trends, online etiquette and fashion can complicate things as well.

“Sister Wives” star Christine Brown is back in the dating pool after ending her “spiritual union” with polygamist Kody Brown and she needs a little help to get back in the swing of things. Christine and Kody were together for more than 25 years and she shared him with three other women, Janelle, Meri and Robyn.

Janelle and Meri have recently announced they’ve separated from Kody. Christine publicly admitted that things were over with Kody in November 2021.

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