Getting To The Root Of The Problem

31 Jan


Last weekend, I drove my daughter to her friend’s house for a play date. Since I had some time to kill and was friends with the girl’s mom, I thought I’d park and come in with Ella to say “Hi” for a few minutes. Apparently, this joint mom/daughter hang out session wasn’t going to fly with Ella. Not because she didn’t want me skulking around, but as she so eloquently informed me, it was because of my appearance. “You’re going to go in?” she freaked as I turned off the ignition. “Your gray is showing!”

I almost kicked her to the curb. But instead, I sucked my lips in, checked out my roots in the rear-view mirror and did my best to ignore her. 

As soon as I got home, I quickly made a color appointment with Angelique and dove into a deep depression about how this expensive root-touch up maintenance was going to be the financial death of me. I’ve been playing a game of hide-and-seek with my gray since I was in my mid-twenties and the bastards are finally catching up. Six weeks between visits has now turned into 5 weeks, but even then, I feel like I could go every 3-4. 

I tried that colored mascara crap that you paint on your roots in-between visits and hated it. I have a huge collection of hats, but I never wear them. Headbands? They give me headaches. So this is what I did. I shaved my head. I’m just kidding. I found this stuff that looks just like a big eyeshadow with a mini paint brush that you’re supposed to brush on over your roots by Adrienne Arpel. It’s called Signature A Thinning Hair Fill & Color from HSN. I am so not a TV shopper. My mom is the queen of info-mmercial shopping and she swore by it. 

I have to admit, it’s quite magical.signature-club-a-hair-fill-and-color-kit-gray-autoship-d-2013060313095334~270904

If you can get past the mugs on these dames in this video, you can learn all about it for yourself (the brunette IS Adrienne Arpel):

Screen shot 2014-01-30 at 10.02.48 PM

Once I begin to see some silver sparkle around my hairline, I lightly brush the powder over it. If you apply to heavily, the color can show up on your scalp which will cause you to look like you got attacked by Ron Popeil. It took me a couple times to get the hang of it, but now I’m not ashamed to say it’s one of my new best friends.


January Is The Month To Get Shopping!

24 Jan

Now that the holiday shopping season is a thing of the past and you don’t have to worry about what to gift Aunt Sue or your 4-year-old nephew for Christmas, you can focus on shopping for the most exciting person in your life; you! Admit it, there were probably plenty of jaw-dropping fashions and accessories that you had to restrain yourself from ringing up last month, right? Thought so. (There were plenty for me.) According to the popular advice site, January is the best time of the year to spruce up your wardrobe: “[Clothing stores] are all having mad sales after the holiday rush, so now’s a great time to grab some extra clothes if you need them. The selection won’t always be great, but the prices will.”

After searching online through a bunch of popular fashion e-tailers, it’s evident that there are actually still plenty of gorgeous winter wears ripe for the picking. Coats, jeans, riding boots, cozy cardis, you name it! Here is a round up of some of my favorite post-holiday fashion finds your hard-earned cash can buy:

Sonsonate Cardigan

On sale for $79.95 from $148

This fashionable and practical staple with faux-fur panels is a great way to bundle up. 



Petite Darling Dots Pants 

On sale for $45 from $98

Add some spot-on style to your winter wardrobe with these velvety-flocked polka dot skinny trousers.

Screen shot 2014-01-23 at 4.22.47 PM


 Oslo Infinity 

On sale for $21 from $30

This cozy, chunky gray scarf is sure to be your new your best friend. 

Screen shot 2014-01-23 at 4.25.33 PM

Sauce Rainbow Crew Neck Jumper 

On sale for $55.56 from $162.97

Geometric designs were all over the NY fashion week runways. Keep your protractor in your desk and get this instead.


Gold Suede Cuban Heel Boots

On sale for $35 from $95

The vintage-y metallic finish on these zip up booties is just the right touch of bling.


The Last Post of the Year!

31 Dec

This essay was originally published in the March 2012 issue of L.A. Parent magazine when it won first place in the “Moms Who Write” contest. Since today is the last day of 2013, I’ve been reflecting on past accomplishments and resolutions I’m striving in for in 2014. I was proud of winning this contest and plan on pushing myself to do more. It’s also Xmas vacation, and I’m feeling super lazy so a repost is about all I can muster right now. Cheers and Happy New Year!


First Place: The Charity Case

Robin Tolkan-Doyle shows how, even on a bad day when nothing seems to be going right, a mom can teach a charitable lesson to her kids.

“You won’t win this one,” I found myself saying to my 8-year-old daughter. It was 8:15 am on a Saturday morning and I was on the other side of one of her glorious meltdowns. “I’m NOT going,” Ella screamed. “I’m staying HOME!” There’s nothing I enjoy more than being verbally assaulted by my beautiful first born, especially when I voluntarily trade in a precious sleep-in day for playing escort to one of my kids’ 15,000 different activities. Today’s mission?  Driving my son, Liam, to his improvisational comedy class on the opposite side of the Valley.


I had an idealistic vision of how this sunny morning was going to play out; while Liam honed his inner Will Ferrell, Mickey the dog, Ella and I would soak in some vitamin D as we frolicked along Ventura Blvd. If she changed her ’tude, a sugary treat might have even been in her near future. Doesn’t she know what I do for her and her brother? Well, she WAS going and she was going to have a fabulous time.

Despite my feelings of under-appreciation, I managed to corral the troops into my eco-friendly trend car. The box of Hostess powdered donuts that I tossed in the back seat provided reinforcement (read: bribe; don’t sue me) and I actually got Liam to class on time (which is a feat in itself). As Mickey pulled us down the boulevard, I blocked out Ella’s moans and groans by gazing into the windows of my favorite clothing stores and fantasized about shopping without an entourage. I thought about all the calories I was burning on this fabulous power walk. And then I noticed Mr. Homeless Man.

With a bath and some clean clothes, he would have looked like one of the dads at my kids’ school. He had a limp that implied his left leg was hurt, but it didn’t deter him from making his way to the garbage can across from the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. He was looking for breakfast and eating whatever he could find.

Being a born and bred Valley girl, this was a scene I’m familiar with. However, something about this man and my daughter witnessing his desperation was different; I felt like I needed to do something for him. If nothing else, I thought, maybe Ella would learn a charitable lesson from me buying him breakfast and better appreciate how good she’s got it.

I told her that I was going to go into Coffee Bean to buy the man something to eat and she sarcastically asked, “Why?” “He’s hungry,” I said. I took Mickey’s leash and tied it to one of the chairs outside before going in. This particular Coffee Bean had doors that automatically opened as you walk in. As I entered with Ella, all the patrons and baristas immediately started laughing at us. Unbeknownst to me, Mickey had followed us right in, dragging the chair in behind him. Through my embarrassed red flush, I led Mickey back outside and secured his leash to the chair.


Random picture of Mickey posing as a samurai.

Back in I went, handed my credit card to the cashier and asked her for a bagel. Five seconds later, I heard that same chair being dragged down the sidewalk. I ran over to check out what was happening and THIS is what I saw: Mickey running like Frogger into traffic, hauling the steel chair behind him. The loud scraping noise the chair made on the cement spooked my little guy out. Car brakes slammed, horns honked, chaos ensued and I screamed at the top of my lungs “MICKEY! COME HERE! MICKKEEYY!” He managed to cross the street unharmed and quickly headed south into the neighborhood behind the retail stores. I was frozen with terror. I didn’t know what to do first. Stay with my daughter in the Coffee Bean?  Run head first into traffic after Mickey? The sheer weight of dragging a patio chair into traffic caused Mickey’s collar to break off, so now he was tagless, and the chair was sitting smack dab in the middle of Whitsett and Ventura.

My screams were obviously heard throughout the coffee shop because two men enjoying their morning Joe immediately ran out into street to save Mickey. I yelled to Ella to remain inside the Coffee Bean and chased behind the men in pursuit of my fugitive dog.

Thoughts of my husband killing me popped into my head. He loves Mickey. Sometimes, I think, more than me. Why was this happening? I was just trying to do something nice. Teach Ella a lesson. Feed a homeless person. What is Ella doing now by herself in the Coffee Bean!? Has she been taken under the wing of a struggling screenwriter who’s teaching her the ins and outs of Final Draft?

Two blocks down, I saw that a white SUV had, thankfully, come to Mickey’s rescue. I dashed over to the car and the woman in the front seat was cradling Mickey like a baby. “He was going so fast and he looked so scared!” she said. “Why don’t you have a collar on him?” Too grateful to dish out a snarky reply, I quickly took Mickey in my arms and recounted my story about buying a homeless man a bagel and almost getting my dog killed in the process.

The two men who came to my aid walked me back to the Coffee Bean as I covered Mickey with kisses. The barista who took my order was waiting on the corner with my credit card, the bagel, the store manager … and, oh yeah, my DAUGHTER!

They were so happy to see that Mickey was OK, especially Ella, who was wiping away tears. As for Mr. Homeless Man? He had vanished, taking with him the valiant lesson I was going to teach my daughter. Ironically, I was standing there holding that bagel, right by that same trashcan. That’s when I started to lose it.

I don’t know if I’ve set “charity” back by this bungled demonstration. I was trying to do something selfless and teach my daughter a lesson and I ended up becoming the charity case. Those people in the Coffee Bean didn’t see me as the do-gooder I was aspiring to be. Instead, they saw a frazzled, overwhelmed mom who leaves her daughter alone with strangers. Luckily for me, though, those strangers had my back when I needed it most. And that’s the greatest act of charity anyone can give.

If anyone learned a lesson, it was I: don’t tie your dog to a chair that weighs less than he does and expect it to stay put. Also, don’t try to teach lessons as that obviously does not work (see above). Maybe living by example is the best way to parent.

After we collected my son and climbed back into the car, I waved the magic bagel in front of both kids to see if they wanted to eat it. Because my hands were still trembling with adrenaline, I accidentally dropped it and Mickey immediately claimed it. Ella began telling Liam the story of what happened and pointed to the scene of the crime as we headed home: “Mommy ran into traffic right here to save Mickey from getting hit by a car!”

“Oh my gosh! Liam exclaimed. “She’s a superhero!”


It was nice to hear my kids talking so highly of me. I could live with “superhero.” I started to exhale.

But before I could soak up the moment, I heard Mickey gagging in the back seat. Projectile bagel vomit blanketed my freshly washed floor mats. I heroically kept heading east on the 101, hoping that I made it till 11 o’clock.