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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.

Finally, someone explains why we all need subtitles

It seems everyone needs subtitles nowadays in order to "hear" the television. This is something that has become more common over the past decade and it's caused people to question if their hearing is going bad or if perhaps actors have gotten lazy with enunciation.

So if you've been wondering if it's just you who needs subtitles in order to watch the latest marathon-worthy show, worry no more. Vox video producer Edward Vega interviewed dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick to get to the bottom of why we can't seem to make out what the actors are saying anymore. It turns out it's technology's fault, and to get to how we got here, Vega and Kendrick took us back in time.

They first explained that way back when movies were first moving from silent film to spoken dialogue, actors had to enunciate and project loudly while speaking directly into a large microphone. If they spoke and moved like actors do today, it would sound almost as if someone were giving a drive-by soliloquy while circling the block. You'd only hear every other sentence or two.

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Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson in 2006.

A startling number of professional athletes face financial hardships after they retire. The big reason is that even though they make a lot of money, the average sports career is relatively short: 3.3 years in the NFL; 4.6 years in the NBA; and 5.6 years in MLB. During that time, athletes often dole out money to friends and family members who helped them along the way and can fall victim to living lavish, unsustainable lifestyles.

After the athlete retires they are likely to earn a lot less money, and if they don’t adjust their spending, they’re in for some serious trouble.

In a candid interview with NFL Hall of Famer and TV personality Shannon Sharpe, Chad Ochocinco (legally Chad Johnson) revealed that he saved 80 to 83% of the $48 million he made in the NFL by faking his lavish lifestyle because it made no sense to him.

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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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Family

American mom living in Germany lists postpartum support and women are gobsmacked

“Every video you make gets me closer to actually moving to Germany.”

U.S. mom living in Germany shares postpartum support she received.

Having a baby is not an easy feat no matter which way they come out. The pregnant person is either laboring for hours and then pushing for what feels like even more hours, or they're getting cut from hip to hip to bring about their bundle of joy. (Unless you're one of those lucky—or rather not-so-lucky—folks who get to labor for hours only to still end up in surgery.)

Giving birth is hard and healing afterward can feel dang near impossible, especially given that most states in the U.S. only offer six weeks of maternity leave and it's typically unpaid. But did you know that not everyone has that experience?

A mom who had her first child in the U.S. before meeting her current husband and relocating to Germany is shedding light on postpartum care in her new country. The stark contrast is beyond shocking to women living in the U.S. and she's got a few considering crossing the ocean for a better quality of life.

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Meghan Elinor chimes in on the Starbucks tipping debate.

Tipping culture is rapidly changing in America, so understandably a lot of people aren’t sure what to do when they buy a coffee and the debit card reader asks for a tip. It used to be that people only tipped bartenders, drivers, servers and hairdressers.

Now people are being asked to tip just about any time they encounter a point-of-sale system. There is a big difference between tipping a server who lugged around hot plates of food for an hour-long meal and someone who simply handed you an ice cream cone.

"We're living in an era of inflation, but on top of that, we've got tipping everywhere—tipflation. I take it a step further and call it a tipping invasion. Because that's really what I think it is," etiquette expert Thomas Farley (aka Mister Manners) told CBS 8.

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Pop Culture

One moment in history shot Tracy Chapman to music stardom. Watch it now.

She captivated millions with nothing but her guitar and an iconic voice.

Imagine being in the crowd and hearing "Fast Car" for the first time

While a catchy hook might make a song go viral, very few songs create such a unifying impact that they achieve timeless resonance. Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” is one of those songs.

So much courage and raw honesty is packed into the lyrics, only to be elevated by Chapman’s signature androgynous and soulful voice. Imagine being in the crowd and seeing her as a relatively unknown talent and hearing that song for the first time. Would you instantly recognize that you were witnessing a pivotal moment in musical history?

For concert goers at Wembley Stadium in the late 80s, this was the scenario.

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