Friday, August 28, 2015

Shopping for back-to-school supplies is likely to ruin your day

I'm not saying standing in an office supply store line with a hundred other cranky parents for forty-five minutes to spend an entire paycheck on a stapler isn't fun. But there are smarter solutions that don't make you want to stab someone with a ballpoint pen.

This year, we bought all of our school supplies (everything you see in this photo) for under $20. Look, if being a cheapskate is wrong, I don't want to be right.

 You can read about how we did it by clicking over here.

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Go see INSIDE OUT at the El Capitan Theatre and unlock the secrets to your teen's brain

You may have seen me mention this on Facebook, but for those of you who haven't seen INSIDE OUT, go see it now. Better yet, go see it now, at the El Capitan Theatre. You'll be filled with joy and not sadness, fear, anger or disgust. (If that last sentence makes no sense to you, you need to go see the movie to see what I'm talking about.) Another thing is, this movie is like having a peek inside your teenager's brain. Sure it's kind of scary in there, but in the end it all makes sense.

To be honest, I was kind of done with animated films. After years and years of seeing them, once my girls got older it was kind of a relief not to have to run out and see the latest kids movie matinee – now movie night is the four of us heading out to see an R-rated flick, which is fine by me. But I'd heard so many great things about INSIDE OUT and since the main character is a tween who is a bundle of emotions and giving her parents a run for their money, I thought it would be like seeing a documentary of my life and I was right.

From Pixar:
Do you ever look at someone and wonder what is going on inside their head? Disney•Pixar’s original new film “Inside Out” ventures inside the mind to find out.

Based in Headquarters, the control center inside 11-year-old Riley’s mind, five Emotions are hard at work, led by lighthearted optimist Joy (voice of Amy Poehler), whose mission is to make sure Riley stays happy. Fear (voice of Bill Hader) heads up safety, Anger (voice of Lewis Black) ensures all is fair and Disgust (voice of Mindy Kaling) prevents Riley from getting poisoned—both physically and socially. Sadness (voice of Phyllis Smith) isn’t exactly sure what her role is, and frankly, neither is anyone else.

When Riley's family relocates to a scary new city, the Emotions are on the job, eager to help guide her through the difficult transition. But when Joy and Sadness are inadvertently swept into the far reaches of Riley’s mind—taking some of her core memories with them—Fear, Anger and Disgust are left reluctantly in charge. Joy and Sadness must venture through unfamiliar places—Long Term Memory, Imagination Land, Abstract Thought and Dream Productions—in a desperate effort to get back to Headquarters, and Riley.
Also, the only place you should see INSIDE OUT is at the El Capitan Theatre – they have a spectacular stage show called "Music of Light" that uses brand-new 3D technology that allows the live performers to interact with a 3D background. Seriously, the kid sitting next to me dropped his popcorn because he thought something was coming at him out of the screen. (Poor thing. I gave him some of mine.) Check it out:

INSIDE OUT will only be playing at the El Capitan through August 19, and is your only chance to experience "Music of Light" so hurry up and get your tickets here. They also have some other fun activities offered along with the movie, like this Dave & Busters combo. Do they know the inside of a teen's brain or what?

INSIDE OUT is playing at the El Capitan Theatre through August 19. You can buy tickets on their website or call 1-800-DISNEY6.
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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

Hello, blog are you there? It's me Marsha. I haven't been here for awhile, since I'm busy writing stories about teens over at I promise to get back here soon and tidy things up, but until then please visit me over there for riveting stories about teen angst, parties, tattoos and the odd celeb or two.

That Time My Teen Daughter Got a Tattoo

I remember watching a show years ago on MTV about extreme fans, and there was an episode that featured a 14-year-old that was obsessed with Gwen Stefani. One scene showed this girl's parents taking her to a salon to have her hair dyed pink, just like Gwen's. My daughters were toddlers at the time, and I recall thinking all sorts of judgmental thoughts about these parents—what kind of monsters let their kid do that to their hair? If I wasn't so busy making homemade baby food and washing my cloth diapers by hand, I would have called CPS immediately.  Read more...

14 Times I Was Paranoid About My Teens
I admit it. I might be just a little paranoid when it comes to parenting my two teens. Given even the most innocent of situations, I will almost always go to the worst-case, glass half-empty, psycho-with-the-chainsaw scenario. Surprisingly, my kids have turned out pretty good even though my daughter did think someone had planted a bomb in her teddy bear when she was 6. Of course, I cut that thing open just to make sure. Read more...

8 Teen Life Hacks Moms Could Use Right Now
In case you haven't noticed, your teen is an expert when it comes to figuring out ways to make life easier for themselves. While my first instinct is to get mad when I find out they're pretending not to know how to change the toilet paper roll, I've come to look at these acts as pure genius and have decided to try and use these to make my life easier, too. Read more...

How Do Your Kids Act When You're Not Around?
When my daughter was in kindergarten they had a weekly "share day" when each child could bring something to school—a book, stuffed animal, favorite toy—and spend a few minutes showing it off to their classmates. After one of the days I missed, I got a call from a parent who was there. She said she knew, as a mom, that we always wondered how our kids did when they weren't under the watchful eye of their parents, and she wanted to let me know how impressed she was with my kid's presentation that day. I was happy to hear it and a bit relieved—you never know what kind of mayhem can go down when a 5-year-old gets center stage. Read more...

17 Ways to Know You Were a Teen in the '80s
Do you find it impossible to part with your fur vest? Can't dance unless Parliament Funkadelic is on the turntable? Then you were probably a teen in the '80s. Sure, this is admitting you're kind of old, but think how jealous everyone is that you got to see the original "A-Team" on your television set—even if you did have to keep getting up to change the channel and adjust the foil on the antennae.

I'm not saying being a teen in the '80s was the best thing in the world, but we were the first ones to dance to Madonna's "Holiday" in a club. OK, maybe it really was the best thing in the world. Read more... 

Why Your Teen Broke Down Over Zayn Malik
Has your teen been crying more than usual in the past week? Unable to eat, clutching her pillow and sobbing "Come back come back" while "Story of My Life" plays on an endless loop in the background? She may just be reacting to the news that Zayn Malik has left One Direction. Yes, I know it's already been seven whole days since the horrible event, but when the entire Universe comes crashing down and the earth stops spinning on its axis, it takes a while to recover. Read more...

9 Reasons Teens Are Better Than Toddlers
Teens get such a bad rap, especially from people with young kids. I keep hearing friends say, "Ugh, I'm dreading the teen years," and they're usually saying this as they're wiping gobs of baby spit-up off of their arms.
Well, I'm here to tell you that teens are actually better than toddlers, and here are a few reasons why. Read more...

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

No pressure, Mindy Kaling, but my kids' future might depend on you

Speaking of Asians, we are big fans of Mindy Kaling over here. In fact, in one of my latest posts for I write about how I'd like for the actress to take over raising my kids if some catastrophe befalls me and my husband. (Just kidding. We all know that job will go straight to Oprah.)

We all love Mindy Kaling, and I think she’s a great role model. Not only is she the perfect combination of brains, beauty and kick-ass wit, but she’s incredibly stylish as well, which means my girls would not only welcome her, but her closet also with open arms. Here are a few other reasons why Mindy is the ideal person for my teen girls to look up to. Read more...

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Monday, February 09, 2015

I'm so Asian

(Yes, as a matter of fact I am singing the title of this post to the tune of "That's So Raven.")

Sometimes I feel more Asian than usual. Times when I don't feel like I blend into my world quite so seamlessly and am keenly aware that even though I was born and raised in this country, as were my parents, I'll always feel like a little bit of an outsider.

One of those times are these months at the beginning of the year, when parents are in the process of choosing high schools and colleges for their kids. Without fail,  every year, I'll hear at least a few people make this comment about a school they're considering.

"That school is full of Asians."

To be fair, sometimes it's said with affection as in, "I love me some Asians. The math scores at that school are THROUGH THE ROOF," and I can concur with that person and also point out that the after-school Origami class is probably pretty killer, too.

But other times it's said with a bit more disapproval, as in,

"This muffin is full of raisins. I FUCKING HATE RAISINS."

Either way, I try and pretend that nothing happened. Because I'm so Asian like that.

The past week was another reason to feel my Asian-ness at full volume – it was the premiere of 'Fresh Off The Boat,' a new sitcom on ABC. The story centers around the Huang family – recent Taiwanese immigrants who have settled in Florida – and the culture clash they experience. It's the first TV show in 21 years to star an all-Asian cast; the last was 'All American Girl' starring Margaret Cho in 1994. Don't start sending me links to PBS documentaries about the royal family in Japan – those don't count.

I don't think I was prepared for what an impact this show would have on me. A show that was just CHOCK FULL OF RAISINS! I knew it was an important milestone but thanks to social media the night of the premiere was like being at one of my huge family gatherings, except without the fighting over the check and the pressure to take home leftovers.


All of my Asian peers watching at the same time, equally thrilled that we were seeing people who looked like us on TV. It was overwhelming and pretty emotional. Here were Asians that weren't cast in roles as the nerdy best friend, the sushi bar waitress or the dry cleaner owners. They were real, flawed, characters who looked and acted like people I know. Something that most of you take for granted, I'm sure, but an empowering, long-overdue moment for Asian Americans.

But then that excitement was dimmed a few days later. My friend and fellow blogger Grace Hwang Lynch posted a photo on Facebook that was taken during a press tour for 'Fresh Off The Boat.' The thing that stood out about the photo? Not one Asian face among the attendees. A press tour for an Asian show, one that is one of the most important things to happen to network TV in terms of Asian representation and NOT ONE ASIAN HAD BEEN INVITED. It stung.

I'm not that much of a blogger anymore. I wouldn't expect to be invited to an event like this, but there are plenty of Asian American bloggers who are active online and in the community who should have been at this press tour to represent and to weigh in on the show. For them not to be included felt deliberate and calculated. Was it deliberate and calculated? The jury's still out, but I can only say it felt exclusionary and insensitive. Kind of like how it felt to not be represented on network TV for the past 21 years.

And the backlash has been swift and harsh. A lot of people are saying that we're just jealous we weren't invited. That we're being too sensitive. That we shouldn't be making it about race. That we should just stop complaining, damnit. It surprised me that so many people couldn't step back, look at the situation and say, 'Hey, that's a mistake. There should have been Asians there," and to see the bigger picture – that Asian Americans have been fighting for a seat at the table for awhile, and this was just one more reminder of the exclusion we encounter on a regular basis.

People aren't used to hearing Asians speak out, and it makes them uncomfortable. We're supposed to be the silent minority and not rock the boat. I know many of my fellow Asian Americans can attest to the fact that we were brought up to be non-confrontational and passive. I think my 94-year-old Japanese mom would just expire on the spot if she knew I was venting on this blog. To the public. And using cuss words.

For me, Asians being excluded from the press tour was so much more than what it seems like on the surface. It meant that even after all these years, we're still invisible to some people. That our voices often don't count. That, in spite of our huge presence as consumers and influencers, so many doors remain closed to us. After all our hard work and striving to be heard, there still isn't a seat on the bus for us.

Thank you to everyone who has spoken up and supported the bloggers who are making our voices heard not just now, but in other arenas and other endeavors. Thank you for sharing our stories and leaving words of encouragement and for seeing us and not making us feel invisible.

Please read these posts by some of my fellow Asian American bloggers, who inspired me to write this post:
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Friday, January 23, 2015

For goodness sake, take the quiz!

Here's my latest post over on Taking this enlightening quiz will require only 60 seconds of your time and can determine, once and for all, if you are indeed the parent of a teen or if you are in fact harboring a robot in your home. The more you know.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Things we're eating: Pasta Bar

Newsflash: Teenagers like to eat. A LOT. So what do you do when you've got fifty of them about to descend on your house for a party and your kids don't want to serve just pizza? Try a pasta bar.

We've served this at more than a few parties now, and it's always a big hit. Much like our popular ramen bar, it's all about giving them choices – let them choose the toppings for their pasta and they'll feel like they can conquer the world. Well, at least the dance floor.

Start by cooking the pasta the night before, and store it in ziploc bags in the refrigerator. I used penne since it's easy to serve up with a spoon but any similar pasta like fusilli or farfalle will do. I suggest you estimate how much you'll need, laugh at that paltry amount and then cook way, way more if you're serving a party of teenagers.

For example, when we were expecting fifty kids I used the 'two-ounce per person' rule and figured that came out to a little more than six-pounds of uncooked pasta. Just to be safe I bought ten pounds of penne, which proved to be a grave underestimation. Halfway through the party we ran out of pasta and some of the kids started eating the sauce by itself, which was both sad and disgusting.

The day of the party, keep the pasta warm in a chafing dish on the table. I suggest putting out two pans of pasta at a time for easy serving since teenagers tend to stampede when they're hungry and you don't want any fistfights breaking out over the penne.

I used jarred sauce, but if you're fancy and masochistic you can make your own the night before. I served both marinara and Alfredo sauces, and also put out a small bowl of pesto for the rebels. Keep the marinara and Alfredo sauces warm in separate chafing dishes.

For the toppings, use your imagination. I put out another chafing dish of grilled chicken breast strips along with bowls of parmesan cheese, sundried tomatoes, chili flakes, fresh tomatoes, olives, chopped parsley, toasted pine nuts and mushrooms. Again, put out way more than you think any humans could possibly eat in an evening and I guarantee you it won't be enough.

I rounded out the meal with lots of sliced french bread, a platter of fruit and bagged Caesar salad. (Buy a lot of salad. Also surprising: Teens love salad!) At the end of the evening, I kid you not – there was not a crumb of bread or even a single grape left on the table. You would think they wouldn't be able to eat any more after that, but then how would you explain 75 cupcakes disappearing in five minutes.

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