2016 Top Ten – #6

#6 – Captain America: Civil War

#7 – The BFG

#8 – Moana

#9 – Rogue One

#10 – My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2


Captain America: Civil War was directed by the Russo Brothers and stars…well… here we go:  Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Sebastian Stan, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, and Daniel Bruhl.  *whew*

If you’ve spoken with me at any length about Marvel movies, you’ll know that Captain America isn’t very high on my list of favorite superheroes.  He’s the quintessential lawful good character, who never toes over the line, never lets loose a white lie, never turns down an opportunity to do good.  At the very beginning of the movie, Steve is forced to begin dealing with the aftermath of his decisions to always do the right thing when innocent people are killed while they’re on a mission.  This is the tipping point for the introduction of the Sokovia Accords – the creation of a special group of international leaders to oversee and control all of the Avengers’ missions.  Steve vehemently opposes this, seeing echoes of Nazi Germany, while his friend Tony Stark is the poster boy for it, having seen the destruction unchecked supers powers can bring.  The strain on their friendship is the focus of the film as Steve begins to shed his “America’s White Knight” armor – not only to control who makes decisions for him, but also to rescue his friend Bucky, who has been framed for the assassination of the King of Wakanda.  This movie calls itself a Captain America movie, but it really is the next ensemble film, complete with a fight between almost all the Marvel superheroes we’ve met so far (Hulk and Thor are conspicuously absent, somewhere in Asgaard after the second Avengers movie).


I like this movie because it took a character whose very existence is based on his unwavering service to his country and dedication to doing good and both substantially changed his character and reaffirmed it at the same time.  He becomes an enemy of the state, he refuses to be controlled and essentially takes half the Avengers team and forms a splinter group.  Unprecedented for the man who truly inspired the United States during WWII.  He falls from grace publicly while never falling personally – he still sticks to his ideals and beliefs while sacrificing everything that defined his Avengers character.  He’s no longer the icon for the US’s strength, unity, and purity, rejecting it to support those who are in need of help (Bucky), openly calls out his teammates who are making (what he sees as) bad choices, and leaves to maintain his independence from those who would seek to control him for their own ends.  He sheds his mantle as America’s hero to embrace the values that originally defined America  Timely, in our day and age.

While not explored as in depth as Tony and Steve’s relationship, the choices they make concerning the Sokovia Accords place stress on other relationships.  Sam Wilson (Falcon) and Steve as Wilson sees the enduring bond between Steve and Bucky and must find a place for it alongside he and Steve’s brother-bond.  The burgeoning romantic relationship between Vision and Scarlet Witch as they find themselves on opposing sides – both newly added to the Avengers and processing not only their new roles, but how their powers work.  And the mysterious but incredibly strong friendship between Hawkeye and Black Widow – tested but still strong throughout the entire film – Hawkeye straight up saying he’s only on Steve’s side because Steve called before Tony did.

I think this film is interesting. It came out before our politics got really incredibly insane with an unqualified leader with murky loyalties and a desire to control everything.  It’s easy to say “Oh, Tony would be on this side and Steve this side” and leave it at that.  But beyond this, it’s more important to look at how each character had to examine their ideals and decide where they stood, especially as the fallout started hitting.  There wasn’t a clear right side and a wrong side in this battle, which I hope was the point of the film.  Nobody won.  Everyone was hurt.  And everyone was weaker because of where the film was ended.  I’m deeply interested in seeing what happens in the next Avengers movie, and have some pretty complex theories about it if you’d ever like to talk about them.  And just to be clear, I never really get this deep about films in real life…I mostly just enjoy a good superhero flick.  This definitely qualifies.


2016 Top Ten#7

#7 The BFG

#8 – Moana

#9 – Rogue One

#10 – My Big Fat Greek Wedding #2



The BFG was directed by Steven Spielberg and starred Mark Rylance and Ruby Barnhill.  It was adapted from the Roald Dahl book of the same title.  It centers around the relationship between an orphan named Sophie and a giant whom she calls the BFG – or Big Friendly Giant.  The BFG kidnaps Sophie after she sees him one night and takes her to giant country, where he shows her his hobby of capturing and mixing dreams and must protect her from his fellow giants who are much larger than he is and oh – also eat children.

This film is a bit of a sentimental choice for me.  The BFG was the first chapter book I read out loud to our daughter and is still one of her favorites.  She begged us to take her to see it in the theaters, but it came out while we were in the fray of moving across the state, so it never happened.  But one night while DH was away on business, she and I snuggled on the couch and watched it together, forever cementing it as one of my favorite films simply due to that memory.

I’ll put it right out there – if you’re a fan of the book, you will most likely be a fan of the film.  There are very little differences between the two, primarily the fate of the other giants (the film opts for a much more humane ending than the book, imho), the introduction of the story of a little boy who used to live with the BFG, and also a few of the scenes where Sophie is threatened by the other giants are a bit different.

The film does a lovely job of exploring the relationship between two individuals who feel abandoned and disliked – Sophie being an orphan who is especially bookish and not conventionally pretty, and the BFG being the smallest of the giants and also the only one unwilling to eat children.  The giant himself is endearing in that he desperately wants to be a hero and helpful, but stumbles around in trying to find his way.  Rylance does a brilliant job bringing his character to life and the CGI, while not perfect, does a good enough job to immerse you in the universe.  There are some spectacularly beautiful parts, especially around Dream Country and as the BFG travels to and from Giant Country.  And if your kids like fart humor, there are several laugh out loud parts that were delightfully entertaining to my flatulent enthusiast daughter.

Overall, I would say this is the best family film of 2016.  It would make a lovely family film night choice, just be aware there are some intense parts with the larger giants that could scare smaller children (everything turns out okay in the end).

2016- # 8

8.  Moana

9.  Rogue One

10.  My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2


Moana was directed by Ron Clements and John Musker and is the 56th animated Disney film.  It featured songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa’i, and Mark Mancina.  It also introduced Auli’i Cravalo (possibly the cutest Disney star ever), Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Rachel House, Jemaine Clement, and Alan Tudyk (as a chicken).

Moana tells the story of a future Maori chief.  She has a special relationship with the ocean, they’re friends and although she cannot command it, it’ll help her by carrying her, bringing her fish, and helping her sail.  It also gifts her with the relic the Heart of Te fiti – the heart of the Polynesian Island goddess that was stolen by the demi-god Maui many years before.  Moana longs to cross the coral barrier that surrounds her island and see what’s out there.  But her father (the current chief) forbids it.  When a mysterious plague threatens her island, Moana recognizes both her responsibility as the chieftain’s daughter (she’s not a princess as she repeatedly emphasizes) to protect her island and the chance to fulfill her dream to sail.  She takes a boat and Te Fiti’s heart and goes in search of Maui to heal the islands.

If you go into this movie wanting another Disney princess flick, you’ll probably be disappointed.  There is no Prince Charming in this film and Moana outright rejects the role of princess.  Instead, going so far as to declare “I am Moana” – her birthright is the ocean and all the adventure and responsibility it entails.  She is capable within herself to save her people and is strong enough to inspire a demi-god and confront lava demon, Te Ka.  Moana is the fierce role model young girls in our day and age need just as Wonder Woman is the fierce role model we as women have been longing for.  Moana is both smart and brave, willing to confront both her weaknesses and her fears, and able to take ownership for her mistakes and responsibilities.

The other fantastic thing about this movie is the music.  It’s just as catchy as those Frozen songs you’ve had on repeat for years, but not nearly as annoying.  I have never been quiet about my lack of love for Hamilton, but Lin-Manuel Miranda’s song writing in this film is incredible.  He not only utilized his own creativity, but collaborated with artists from Maori  tribes to be sensitive to their particular culture.  I don’t think that Disney has ever been this culturally sensitive in making a movie, which some criticized but I found overwhelmingly refreshing.  This film isn’t just a girls’ Disney movie, I feel like any kid would love it, no matter their gender.  There are a few mildly scary parts with Te Ka, and a jewel obsessed coconut crab named Tamatoa.  If you think of a reason to not watch this film and have not seen it yet, I’d love to hear it (and will probably dispute it) in the comments.  This is not only one of my top ten films of 2016 but probably one of my favorite Disney films overall.



2016- #9

9. Rogue One

10.  My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2


Rogue One was directed by Gareth Edwards and was the first standalone Star Wars film Disney has released since adding the Star Wars rights to their gluttonous pile of money making machines.  Going into the film, the general population knew that Disney could handle Star Wars, The Force Awakens was a triumphant return for many fans.  But it was our first time in the galaxy far far away without any beloved faces – no Han, no Leia, no constant whining Luke.  There were a few scenes with everyone’s favorite Darth, but for the most part, Disney had the challenging job of taking a precious framework with a rabid fanbase and construct an entirely new story to fit within that framework as well as produce characters who could stand on their own and win our hearts.


They were highly successful.


Jyn Erso is the daughter of a brilliant scientist.  He’s taken by the Empire (and also has his wife killed to fulfill that tired old trope) to make a super weapon (enter Death Star) and Jyn is placed into the somewhat dubious care of a Rebel extremist named Saw.  Years later, Jyn has forged her own rebellious identity and is a criminal who has been captured by the Empire.  Rescued by the dashing Rebel officer Cassian Andor, she somewhat begrudgingly joins their cause with the sub-mission of her own to find her father.  Along with Andor’s acerbic droid K2S0, and a few oddball crewmates they pick up along the way, Jyn and Andor are tasked with destroying the Death Star or gaining the plans which will reveal a way to destroy it.  (Remember the beginning of a New Hope?  Those plans Senator Organa put into that little droid?)


I had my suspicions on how this film would turn out as soon as I saw the premise – the lead into a New Hope.  And I’ll do my best to remain spoiler free here.  But Disney and Edwards did a fantastic job keeping the action running as well as bringing home just how desperate a situation this galaxy is in.  A corrupt and all-powerful empire who seems to stamp down its constituents, I mean people, at every turn and only cares for more power for themselves.  A band of women, deserters, and minorities who are fighting not only for their own freedom but for the freedom of their entire galaxy.  And the crushing cost at which it comes.  It changes the tone of the entire series, the entire Star Wars universe.  Maybe because of the political landscape in the US today, or maybe because I’m an adult watching these instead of a kid.  But either way, Rogue One earned its place in the pantheon of Star Wars films, cementing Jyn, Cassian, K2S0, Saw, Bodhi, Baze and Chirrut as heroes of the Rebellion just as much as Solo, Organa, and Skywalker.


#10 – My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

Ok, I’ll admit, this isn’t that spectacular a film – BUT it did really hit the spot because the weekend before, I saw the worst movie of 2016, which I talk about here.

10.  My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2


This movie was directed by Kirk Jones and starred Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Michael Constantine, Lanie Kazan, and Elena Kampouris.  It takes place roughly two decades after the first film – Ian and Toula now have an 18 year old daughter, Paris.  The vague semblance of a plot is the dual crises of Paris graduating from high school and wanting to escape her Greek family by attending a college very far away AND Toula’s parents discover their marriage certificate isn’t valid so they are not actually married.  Greek chaos ensues as Toula’s mother refuses to marry her father legally because she feels taken for granted and Ian and Toula struggle with wanting to support their daughter in her desire to be independent but desperately wanting her to stay near to them.  Add in the fact that Paris is in her first romantic relationship and the passion is waning in Ian and Toula’s and you’ve got the basics of the film.

Yes, I know it’s not groundbreaking.  I know it wasn’t nominated for any awards and most people (including me) only saw it because they have some affection for the first movie (which is a classic).  But – this movie didn’t make any huge promises.  It promised to take a look back at the Portokalos family two decades since Ian and Toula were married.  And it did just that.  It simply shows a slice of familial life in a family that’s a little bit crazy and a lot Greek.  And after the incredibly skin crawling let down that was Batman V Superman, it was just what I needed.  Sometimes it’s nice to see a film in which a family who seems somehow more insane than mine can survive the little (and the large) stumbling blocks to happiness that crop up in life and that sometimes things don’t turn out the way you want but you still have your family.  Nothing explodes, no one dies violently, no big twists – just a little bit of family time with the Portokalos’s.

In Which I finally Keep my Word…sorta.

So – I’ve completed my Top Ten list of 2016.  And I’ve started my top ten of 2017.

But before we kick it off, I’m sure you want to know the worst movie I saw in 2016.  Honestly, this is one of the worst if not THE worst movie I’ve ever seen.  Jason argues with me that Ultraviolet was the worst, but I spent most of Ultraviolet too confused to be angry that it was awful.

This movie did not have that.  Instead, it had one shining amazing character who just managed to provide an idea of how great the movie could have been and instead fell flat on its face.

Know it yet?

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

It was directed by Zack Snyder, who has not made a lot of movies I like.  But in the past that wasn’t his fault because the material was too dark for me.  See – Watchmen and 300.  Batman_v_Superman_poster

The only great part of this movie was Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, giving us a brief taste of what was to come in her origin story movie, but not focused on enough to save this film in the slightest.  Jesse Eisenburg was alright-ish as Luthor, but I have a hard time seeing past his awkward teenagerness to picture him as a supervillain.

Here’s a shot at giving you the plot.  And if you want it unspoiled, skip this paragraph.  The world has turned against Superman, including Batman who witnesses the destruction left in Superman’s wake while fighting General Zod.  Meanwhile, Superman isn’t too pleased with Batman’s methodology and they begin to hate each other.  Enter Lex Luthor who exploits the entire situation towards his favor, setting off a bomb at a congressional hearing and both making Superman look guilty and inflicting guilt for not stopping the bomb.  Superman runs to hide with his guilty feelings and Luthor kidnaps his adoptive mom, Martha.  Meanwhile, Batman is investigating Luthor with the mysterious Diana Prince.  Luthor demands Superman kill Batman to save his mom and they fight, destroying tons of warehouses in the process.  While they’re distracted fighting each other, Luthor releases a huge monster he has concocted using his own DNA and that of General Zod.  Batman gets the upper hand on Superman but only stops from killing him when he finds out their mothers share the same first name – Martha.  The monster is smashing the city outside and fighting Wonder Woman, who has not been distracted from her JOB.  It can absorb all the energy Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman use against it and in the end Superman sacrifices himself to use a kryptonite spear originally intended for his demise on the monster.  (We know that death won’t stick long).  Luthor goes to prison where he and Bruce Wayne have a dick measuring contest (not really, they just posture about who is the real winner in the conflict).  And then DC uses Wayne to clumsily hint at the formation of the Justice League.


Why don’t I like this movie?  Well, I dislike movies that rely on the stupidity of men to form an entire plot, bolstering it with miscommunication and manipulation by someone who is clearly narcissistic or evil.  The plot was so thin that it probably could’ve been covered and resolved in a 42 minute television episode, yet the movie was two and a half hours long.  The average intelligent movie goer didn’t need an hour and 45 minutes to show us that Wayne and Kent are at odds and being manipulated by Luthor.  We knew Prince was Wonder Woman so trying to make that a mystery was a lost cause.  The fight scenes themselves were claustrophobic with a little too much emphasis on being dramatic.  Dramatic glares, dramatic punches, dramatic scowling.  The fighting was clunky and predictable.  The inability of these characters to actually communicate with each other borders on the unrealistic.  If they’re really set up as protectors of their respective cities, they should already have experience with mediation and communication – especially Kent as a reporter.

The other horrid thing about this movie, was surprisingly, Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack.  Very rarely does a soundtrack detract so much from the film that it’s painful to listen to.  Relying heavily on dissonance and awkward chording and sooooo much choral input, listening to it made me feel I was getting an insight into a schizophrenic person’s mind.  It was so terrible that afterwards, Zimmer announced he was retiring from scoring superhero films.


There you have my vitriolic rant on the worst movie I saw in 2016.  Stay tuned for #10.  Maybe it’ll take me less than six months to post.


2016 in Film – S

DH has decided to resurrect his yearly top movies, so I guess that means I am too.  I don’t know if it will be top ten because parents don’t get to go see as many movies as kid-free adults do.  If I see any more, I’ll add to this list.  J will prob post his later.  We’ll post our top films for 2016 in January – guesses welcome!

Here’s what I saw in the dumpster fire that was 2016:

  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
  • Deadpool
  • Zootopia
  • Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
  • Captain America :Civil War
  • X-Men: Apocalypse
  • Ghostbusters
  • Star Trek Beyond
  • Suicide Squad
  • Doctor Strange
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • Moana


Here’s what I’m going to try and see before January:

  • Zoolander 2 (Don’t judge me)
  • The Boss
  • The Jungle Book
  • Now You See Me 2
  • Finding Dory
  • The Legend of Tarzan
  • The BFG
  • The Secret Life of Pets
  • Bad Moms
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Queen of Katwe
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children


But let’s face it, I won’t get to see all of those in 20 days.

In which I copy Beck, but focus on Goop.

One of my all-time favorite people is Beck, formerly of Frog and Toad, now over at This is My New Blog.

Every year, she does this amazing thing, even though it’s time consuming and tedious.  She reviews the Oprah Holiday Gift Guide with her fantastically cutting sarcasm, from a point of view of the normal person – the person who does not wish to spend $50 on a gift for their dog.  And I was inspired to copy her.  With Goop.  Because I have a deep seated disdain for that ethereal being, Gwyneth Paltrow and her borderline insane views on life and the universe.  Beck shares most of my views on our friend, Gwyn, and she gave me her blessing.

Imagine how shocked/surprised/impressed I was that the ladies over at Goop have not just one holiday gift guide.  They have ten. I didn’t really know how to choose, and since posting a poll on Facebook seemed like overkill, and the vulva rolling paper disappeared, I just went with one that seemed ridiculous.  So, I present, with apologies to Beck, my review of the Traveler’s Gift Guide from Goop.

The nice thing about Goop gift guides is they now have a physical store you can shop at.  Provided you live in the area.

The Traveler Gift Guide: Here, all the utilitarian necessities; TSA-friendly beauty and wellness products (indispensable for the jet-setters and the jet-lagged alike); and bucket-list trip ideas to spark some wanderlust and take the sting out of packing.

First up, A James Perse Cashmere Plaid Blanket for $995. – “A blanket that’s as home on the red eye as it is on the couch.  This supremely soft cashmere blanket, in goes-with-everything navy-and-grey plaid, is incredibly luxurious and even more comfortable—it’s the ultimate throw to keep at the foot of the bed, or to drape over the couch for cozy nights in.”


Ok, I get it.  Airplanes can be cold.  And it can be kind of skeevy to use the same blankets everyone else does on the plane.  But there are these fancy new things called sweatshirts that you can wear to keep yourself warm.  Cashmere is delightful, but if I’m going to drop $1000 on a blanket, it’s going in a vault in my bedroom, not with me on a plane where I could forget it.  To a place not my house where I could forget it.  And let’s face it, I’m not dropping $1000 on a blanket.  But if any of my never-known-to-me wealthy relatives want to buy this for me, I’ll take it because I am an unashamed blanket hoarder.


A Williams Sonoma Aeropress Coffee Maker for $29.95  – “Brew the perfect cup over any mug”


This is actually something I would probably buy, because I love coffee and it’s small and cute.  But I’m not entirely sure why this fits in the travel category unless you’re one of those people who refuses to let anyone make you coffee but you and your specially coffee college trained servant, Juan Valdez.  You have to have a mug to brew it over and doing this on a plane seems…unwise.


Janessa Leone Henningsen Hat for $181 – “The felt keeps its shape even after being stuffed in a carry-on…In cool light-grey wool, this simple-chic hat instantly upgrades any look, from jeans and tee to even a dressed-up evening ensemble.


Unless you are Gwyn or Diane Keaton, this hat is probably not for you.  It is definitely not for me.  Or anyone I know.  Also, I’d like to see what dressed-up evening ensemble this goes with.  Second also – $181 for a hat?  Nope.


The Gin & Tonic Carry On Cocktail Kit for $24“Picks up where the bar cart leaves off.  These carry-on-friendly tins include the ingredients for one of three classic cocktails (Moscow Mule, Old Fashioned, and Gin & Tonic), as well as tiny versions of the tools you’ll need to mix them mid-flight—just ask for a glass, ice, and the actual booze.”


Because nothing screams “I’m a douche-canoe!” like pulling out your own tiny cocktail making kit on an airplane.  Sorry guys, this is sold out.



Lou & Grey Snowdrift Sweater for $79.50“A quintessential layering piece.”


This is actually a pretty average price for a nice sweater.  And it’s a fairly attractive sweater though white sweaters make me look like a puffball.  I get they’re going with the whole “airplanes are cold” gig again.  But it’s a sweater and if you’re buying for a traveler, they probably already have a favorite layering clothing item to wear on a plane.  Plus, I’m going to go with my guru Beck and say you probably shouldn’t buy clothes for someone you don’t know incredibly well.  Meh.


Alder New York Organic Natural Dry Shampoo for $27“a life-saver on long-haul flights. This clean, USDA-certified organic dry shampoo powder is the kind you use sparingly, so one of these bottles lasts a long time. Not just a cleanser but a texturizer, apply this blend of refreshing eucalyptus, cleansing clay minerals, and absorbent, volume-boosting rice powder and horsetail powder by tapping a bit into the palm of your hands; then, using your fingers, comb it through at the roots, then use a brush to gently dust off any excess.”


Did you know you can find recipes to make your own dry shampoo that coordinates with your own hair color on Pinterest?  And they only cost about 5o cents.  Of course, those recipes don’t contain HORSETAIL POWDER, so if that’s a dealbreaker for you…then you’ll just have to shell out $27 for this stuff to hide your hideousness.  Or y’know, $181 for that hat up there to cover up your airplane hair.


de Mamiel Altitude Oil for $44“Just a few deep inhales helps ward off headaches and kicks the immune system into high gear.  An inhalation essence that utterly transforms the experience of flying—a few deep breaths of it over the course of a flight clears your head, boosts immunity, and energizes both mind and body. But carry this exquisite mix of luxurious plant oils everywhere in your bag—for a lift in spirit, energy after long hours at your desk, on a train or bus, and to clear congestion from colds or allergies. A unique multi-tasking, do-it-all essential that’s life-changing.”


I’m not going to say I never use essential oils for anything because that would be a lie.  But, I do know that lots of people have allergies and odor sensitivities which might be triggered should I whip this out on an airplane.  And lots of people may look askance at me if I start huffing out of a tiny bottle on an airplane as well.  Plus, these types of bottles are notorious for leaking if they aren’t stored upright and I really don’t want something like this leaking all over my carry-on.  Did I mention the smell of patchouli gives me a raging migraine?  This is a big fat fail of a product for me.


All-You-Can-Eat Press Food Maps for $8 each“The NYC ramen map is a team Goop favorite.  More cities coming soon. “


I am a food-lover and I find these quaint and adorable.  But if I’m perfectly honest, I’m not going to use a paper map to find somewhere to eat.  I’ll use my phone, or ask friends from the area, or a social media site.  I guess I’m just not hipster enough to use these for anything other than framed on my wall for decoration.


RMS Beauty Ultimate Makeup Remover Pack Wipe: 20 pack for $16“works wonders for all skin types.  These easy-to-use, easy-to-transport cleansing cloths are stealth skincare treatments. Made with cold-centrifuged organic coconut oil, which contains rare lauric and caprillic acids—found mostly in breast milk and destroyed by heat, including typical “cold-pressed” processes—these have powerful antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties. They are ultra-moisturizing, yet don’t cause breakouts (and can actually help treat them), and are gentle enough around the delicate eye area to smooth away mascara. Brilliant for all skin types, from sensitive to blemish-prone, to super-dry. 


I’m a sucker for anything that makes it easier to clean my face at night so I would probably try these.  So…good job, Goop?


The School of Life Writing as Therapy Travel Journal for $20“190 gridded pages for tracking journeys both physical and emotional.  Writing itself can be therapeutic, but few journals actually feel as good as this one to write in: its 100grm Munken paper has a beautiful texture and weight, and the classic, embossed linen cover and binding look simply, timelessly elegant.”


It’s a nice journal.  Whoop.  I would love to get this as a gift, but I’ll maybe write in it twice before I lose it.  I’m not a big journaler, so maybe if you have someone in your life who loves journaling?  Is that a word?


Quip Electric Toothbrush for $45“A beautiful, un-bulky electric toothbrush (fresh brush head refills shipped to your door every three months. “


Admittedly, this is attractive for a toothbrush, but I also feel it’s kind of a jerk move to gift something that requires you to pay more to upkeep it.  Like signing someone up for a subscription service such as this.  “You get a cute electric toothbrush!  But you also have to pay to get replacement heads mailed to you!”  Yes, it’s only $5 a month but I would recommend shying away from gifting hygiene items that require monthly financial commitment of any sort.  And guys, it’s a toothbrush.  That’s not that exciting of a gift unless you’re in the dental industry.


Poketa Umbra Shift Cowboy Coffee Kettle for $98“Open range recommended, but not required. Inspired by traditional open range fire brewing, this coffee kettle by Castor Design brings sophistication to your morning coffee ritual. Comes in black or speckled white with a beechwood trivet. Serves four cups of coffee. ” 


I…don’t understand.  Is this for campers?  Well…it’s Goop.  So is this for glampers?  And if you’re shopping for the sort of person who is both a coffee aficionado and a traveler…I’d go with the aeropress.  Because no one wants to drink 4 cups of coffee on a plane, or start a small fire in their hotel room to brew coffee.  Also, this seems like SO MUCH WORK FOR COFFEE.  Recommended only for your camping or cowboy friends, I guess.


Flight 001 Goop Spacepak Travel Pouch Kit for $115“Magically creates extra space in suitcases of all sizes.  This endlessly useful travel pouch kit incorporates different sized, uniquely stamped Spacepaks—one for packing clothes, another for shoes, another for underthings, all in a cool space-age design. Made of water-resistant nylon, this is perfect for the serious world-traveler.”


So this is a tiny suitcase filled with other, smaller, suitcases to go in your suitcase.  Seriously though, it might be nice to have ONE smaller case to keep your dirty undergarments in, but three seems excessive.  And I can use ziploc bags instead of space age sacks to sort my dirties from my clean clothes.  So unless you’re shopping for someone who a) travels constantly for their job and b) you’re willing to spend $115 on, I don’t really see this being a viable gift option.


Lauren Manoogian Neck pillow for $220“Handmade in Peru of cushy boucle wool.  This soft, plush, handmade baby-alpaca and merino-wool bouclé neck pillow is the coziest, most luxurious travel accessory ever, so comfortable you’ll emerge from your flight feeling actually well-rested.”


I will never, ever spend $220 on a special neck pillow for traveling.  Though I probably would spend a good ten minutes squishing this in store just for the cushiness.  Because I know how soft baby alpaca is.  Also – one of the warmest fibers out there, so if you used this to actually sleep (and if you had your fancy cashmere blanket with you) you’d probably get pretty sweaty.


VSSL Supplies for $99.50 “Essential survival supplies stacked into a slick flashlight. Contains the outdoor gear you need for short-term excursions.  Wherever your adventure takes you, be prepared!”


Okay, so *now* I’m getting that they’re including camping supplies in this list because the term “Traveler” to me is not the same as “outdoorsy person.”  Maybe that’s my bad.  This, if it were not nearly $100, would be something I would maybe buy for my brother in law and his wife who mountain climb and kayak and hike and spend lots of time in the mountains.  Would you like to know the contents?  I bet you would!  It’s got a beeswax candle, an oil filled compass, a razor blade, water purification tablets, a wire saw, an aluminum beadless emergency whistle, waterproof matches, some Tinder Quik fire starters, fishing gear, a signaling mirror, Marine grade rope, reflective trail markers, a military type can opener, first aid supplies, and instructions for survival – oh and it’s in a flashlight.  The thought is nice, “don’t die in the outside!”  But it’s a heck of a lot of money to spend on someone unless they are really, really into outdoor activities.   So maybe a great gift for someone not me?  And I bet refilling this thing is a bear to manage and expensive.


A four issue subscription to “The Collective for $64 – “A beautifully documented deepdive into a single destination every quarter.”


This is a gift I feel you would need to buy for someone you know very very well.  Because you don’t really get much choice when choosing which destination gets a deepdive for your subscription.  So if your recipient hates deserts, I wouldn’t get it this year because next up is the Mojave desert.  I mostly just think this is a gift for rich old white men who dream of shooting endangered animals.



Herschel Supply Co. Anchor iPad Air Sleeve for $30“Extra padded for extra protection.  Fully padded and lined with super-soft fleece, this sleeve helps protect your iPad from impacts, scratches, and other damage—and with its signature anchor and stripe design and pebbled-leather zipper, it looks classically smart and deeply cool.”


Oh, okay.  I think we’re back to actual travelers here.  So this is obviously to protect your iPad.  And it’s…sort of cute?  But if you’re really serious about protecting your electronic tablet, I’d spend another $10 and get an otterbox brand (or Lifeproof if you’re protecting your phone).  Not as cute but I bet they would do a hell of a lot better job protecting your iPad than a padded case.  Maybe not as great a job protecting your reputation as a devil-may-care traveler with cute accessories.


Goop Flight Pack for $198“Our essential-packed travel kit is back (and better than ever)!  The goop flight pack is the perfect (clean) beauty solution in-flight and on-the-go. This cotton pouch comes filled with every wellness essential imaginable to get you through a long-haul trek, each one in its own dedicated compartment and conveniently sized (with the TSA’s blessing) to fit in your carry-on. Each pack comes in a perfect pouch designed exclusively for goop by Corroon (one of our favorite travel accessory brands).”


So this is a travel pack containing a lot of the other things they’ve been trying to sell you on but these are their own brand.  You’ve got five little bags, four face wipes, vitamin C sachets, ear plugs, a sleep mask, 4 sachets of magnesium fizz, ear phones, lip moisturizer, and face moisturizer.  So go ahead and self-diagnose yourself with mineral deficiencies and have fun rooting around in your carry-on trying to find the right tiny bag.  Not to mention most of these items (maybe not the magnesium fizz or the goop brand moisturizer) can be found at your local drugstore and are very inexpensive.  If you need to drop $200 to tell someone they need to look better when they’re on a plane, you have bigger issues in your life.


Billykirk Medium Carryall Bag for $352“Form, meet function.  This perfect carryall-meets-briefcase fits most laptops (up to 17″) and, with its adjustable shoulder strap, signature leather luggage tag, and durable Denier olive nylon lining, it’s also an excellent travel bag. Finished with luxe leather trim, it’s elegant enough for everyday and office use, yet resilient and versatile enough for everything from a work trip to a camping trip.”


Hey, the 1980s called to see how that carryall bag was working out.  Not my taste and not my thing to buy a laptop bag that costs almost as much as a plane ticket.  Additionally, this bag only comes in this dark blue color so if your recipient isn’t a blue fan, you’re out of luck.  Don’t be fooled, this is a Goop subsidiary brand.


National Geographic Expeditions by private jet, price upon request “24 days to explore Machu Picchu, Petra, and ten more UNESCO World Heritage sights by private jet.  Circle the globe with top National Geographic experts on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Traveling in the comfort of a private jet, encounter legendary places from Machu Picchu and Tibet to the Taj Mahal and Marrakech. Experience natural wonders such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Serengeti Plain, and the island paradise of Samoa.”


That price upon request?  I did some digging and if you want to get this for just one person it will run you about $95,000, making this easily the spendiest thing in this guide.  Honestly, if some rich person wants to buy this for me I would be their best friend forever.  And feel guilty about them spending nearly $100,000 on a gift.  I hear Robin Leach’s voice just reading about this.


Tokyobay Obi Watch Roll for $90 “The Only Way to transport a timeless collection.”


I guess if you just have to get something for Kanye or Brad Pitt, this would do.  But honestly, the best place to transport your watch is probably either on your wrist or in your carry on.  Or do what normal people do and look at your phone for the time.


Master & Dynamic ME05 Earphones for $200 – “The best-sounding buds out there.  These earphones are small, yet mighty: Engineered for precise, perfect sound quality, a comfortable, ergonomic fit, and an elegant look, each pair is hand-finished with solid-brass and mirrored detailing.”


Again, something I would misplace my first flight.  I can’t really make much of a statement on earbuds because I can’t wear them.  I prefer the noise cancelling headphones that double as actual headphones.  And if you’re looking to be impressive with your ear/sound gear, I’ve been advertised to death that Beats by Dre is the way to go, and about $80 cheaper.


The Beach People The Tulum Round Beach Towel for $110“Because all beach towels are not created equal.  This big, beautiful towel is the perfect family-sized beach blanket, made of weighted, super-soft, 100% cotton. The Roundie leather carrier makes it extra easy to tote to pool parties, parks, or camping trips.”


This is just an opinion, but I think round towels are about the stupidest invention.  It will never get wrapped tightly around you.  So if you shell out the $110 for A TOWEL, then make sure to go to Target and get a bath sheet for about $10 to actually wrap yourself up in.  Then use this $110 TOWEL to go on the sand to sit on and get trashed.  Smh.


The Beach People Roundie leather carrier for $39 “Also works with a yoga mat.  This sleek leather carrier has adjustable buckles, so it’s incredibly versatile—perfect for yoga mats, blankets, foam rollers… and, naturally, The Beach People’s signature Tulum round beach towel.”


This is to carry your stupid $110 towel around in.  Instead of a giant tote like normal people.


Master & Dynamic MH40 Over-ear headphones for $400“Crisp sounding, design-y and built to last.  These noise-isolating headphones comfortably insulate you from the world (M&D calls them “modern thinking caps”), making the rich, warm sound quality even more incredible. Even better: they’re built to last for decades, created with the highest quality professional-grade materials.”


Now these headphones are pretty.  And usable by me.  Obviously, the cost is prohibitive from any sane person buying them.  But if I found them abandoned on the street (or left behind on a plane), I’d use them.


Rimowa Bossa Nova 22″ Multiwheel Iata for $995“A worthy investment for the frequent flyer. The luxurious and classic BOSSA NOVA collection by Rimowa adds a special touch with its elegant color, its workmanship, the highest-quality materials and its passion for detail. Lightweight and durable polycarbonate gleams in a Jet Green hue. “


I don’t think getting a suitcase is a very exciting gift, but then again – I’m not a world traveler.  Maybe a suitcase in this price range is the holy grail of gifts…who knows?  I sure wouldn’t want one.  And what is “jet green”?



Related Garments The Weekday Package for $125 “For the guy who hates to pack, a week’s worth of briefs and socks.  5 sets of matching boxer briefs and socks as featured in The Zoe Report & InStyle’s holiday gift guides. Bonus! For purchasing our week package you get our new garment washable travel bags. Wear them together, Wash them together!”


The ultimate insult of gifts – underwear.  But not just any underwear.  Underwear for men who are too lazy to pack their own underwear when traveling.  So they just buy more.  OR ASK YOU TO BUY MORE.  Grandmas of businessmen, your day has come.  Let’s just get past the fact that you would a) need to know the recipient’s foot and underwear size, and b) know they wear boxer briefs…you’re still buying them underwear.  And just a heads’ up – the $125 is the sale price.  They’re normally $175 for five days of chones and socks.  I guess because sometimes you can’t be bothered to hit up wherever you go for undergarments.

I’m just going to add here, my husband DOES hate to pack.  But that doesn’t mean he goes out and buys new underwear whenever he travels.  He mans up and packs.  (Or if I’m feeling particularly generous, I’ll help him pack).  This just tells someone, “I know next time you travel, you probably won’t pack underwear, so let me get you covered.”


Cote Traveler Gift Set for $38“Get the perfect 10 on the go. For an instant (clean) manicure or pedicure anywhere, this kit comes with two nontoxic, swipe-off, non-acetone remover pads (one pad can do all ten nails); a petit Côte nail file for smooth, easy shaping; the brand’s strengthening base coat/top coat, and three super-shiny, long-lasting nail colors: A delicate pink, classic fire-engine red, and a gorgeous gold. Packed in an adorable organic-cotton pouch, it’s ready to travel—and makes an amazing gift.”


If you’re considering this as a gift option, here’s a suggestion.  Find one of those hundreds of tiny bags probably around your house from Clinique makeup sets or whatever and go to Rite-Aid or Target and get some little emery boards, a few inexpensive nail colors (or grab some of your unopened ones) and a few individual nail polish remover pads and ten to one, it’ll come in under $38.  I feel like nail polish is a pretty personal choice when it comes to color, and maybe that’s just me.  But if I got this as a gift I would not be impressed.  Also, if someone pulled out nail polish remover on a plane or a train or in an automobile…I would probably garrote them.


Vianel Personalized Backup for $110“Don’t leave home without it. Crafted from anodized aluminum and wrapped in pebbled leather, the 6000mAh V.BACKUP delivers an extra 27 hours talk time for your smartphone. It comes equipped with 2 USB ports, which makes for easy charging, and its gorgeous, natural leather means each one looks a little unique; have it personalized with your monogram to make it even more so.”


Hm.  Okay, I don’t really have anything snarky to say about this except it’s kind of a pretentious version of a smartphone charger.  And I’d lose that little adapter in about two seconds flat.  And there are much cuter options out there for lots less money.  Nothing says “happy holidays” like “this’ll help you talk on your cell phone more or play that next round of Candy Crush.”  Oh look!  I did have some snark!


Beautycounter Rosewater Uplifting Spray for $35 “Spritz liberally.This is an office staple: Lightly scented with real rose, one or two mists is a total pick-me-up.”


Ok for real, this stuff is the bomb.  I’ve used it before and I adore it.  I would think it’d be a great gift unless the person you are giving it to is allergic to or hates the scent of roses.  So maybe check that first.  Then buy it for yourself.  Btw, Beautycounter is a direct sales company so if you do buy it – don’t get it from Goop and Gwyn.  Find a local consultant and help her get some money for the holidays.

eta: I just legit went and added this to my wishlist.


St Frank Baby Alpaca Throw for $225“More lightweight than the average travel blanket. Besides being unbearably cute, baby alpaca have some of the softest, cuddliest wool in existence, which is what makes this blanket so incredibly soft and comfortable. Perfectly sized as a cozy throw for couch, bed, or on-the-go, it’s made especially great by the delicate eyelash fringe and signature gold St. Frank plate”


Another blanket for the cold plane blah blah blah.  If this is actually cria (the first shearing from a baby alpaca) then this is actually reasonably priced.  But I can’t see it listed as being cria alpaca anywhere and I feel like that’d be a special snowflake attribute Goop would advertise, so feel free to mock its expensiveness.


Tierra Patagonia Photography Adventure, price upon request“Five days at the Tierra Patagonia resort with a focus on wildlife photography. Designed for lovers of photography, the Tierra Patagonia photo adventure gives participants an opportunity to discover the biodiversity of Torres del Paine National Park and at the same time, get some great wildlife photography tips!”


Once again I did some digging for you and a double room will run you $4100 USD for the adventure.  This does include lodgings, food, and the excursions – but not airfare, photography and hiking equipment, and any tipping, add ons, etc.  If you have a metric ton of money to spend on someone and that someone likes photography and travel, they might like this.  But it’s only for people who are physically able to hike out where the wildlife is.  If I had a metric ton of money, I would buy this for my dad who is a professional photographer and loves hiking.  But I don’t.  So it’s a moot point.  It’s hard being a normal person sometimes.


Shhhowercap Shower Cap for $43“Designed to look and fit like a chic turban, it protects your hair—works for all hair types—and it looks, against all odds, super chic doing it.”


This is for people who apparently don’t need the dry shampoo because they don’t want to wash their hair.  And yes, I had to check that I spelled that right about five times.  But it’s so chic, so maybe you can wear it on the plane and avoid dealing with your hair entirely.


Native Union Night Nautical Lightning/Micro USB cable for $40“Ten feet of charging bliss.  This ten-foot-long charger cable (perfect for Apple devices using the Lightning port) has a super-convenient, weighted knot, which anchors to any flat surface, making it easy to find and giving your space a less-cluttered look/feel.”


I’m gonna go ahead and call bullshit on this advertising jingo.  We have a ten foot USB lightning port cable and I’ll tell you, if it had a huge ass nautical knot in it, it would not make our space look less cluttered.  It would get caught on everything.  It would make it hard to plug in to hotel electrical sockets b/c those things are usually behind bedside tables.  And it would make it unwieldy to pack.  Any child who found this would instantly turn it into a weapon if they were a real child.  This thing has got to be an epic fail.


The Beach People Beach Cart for $245“Needless to say the kids love it.  A durable, essential, carry all beach cart. This sturdy thing has made our beach trips bliss, enjoy!”


This is cute, sure.  But I feel like you would only buy this for someone who lives in the Hamptons.  Otherwise, grab a Radio Flyer.  They’re about $100 cheaper.


Owen & Fred Hey Handsome Shaving Kit Bag for $68“Lest he forget. This army-green, USA-made cotton-canvas shaving kit is endlessly useful (it holds all the necessities, from shaving cream to a toothbrush), but it’s also low-key adorable—he’ll get a kick out of the loving reminder every time he travels.”


This is cute.  But not $68 cute unless it shaves my husband’s face for him.  And I think you could find something similar on Etsy and support a small business owner…maybe for even less than $68.


Lumillamingus Perforated Laia Clutch for $700“Works double duty as an iPad cover. The cool thing about LumillaMingus’ clutches is that they double as iPad covers, making them indispensable for travel. This playful, feminine version is perforated on one side and solid on the other.”


Good news, this $700 leather bag with holes in it doubles as an iPad cover.  And it’s leather, so it’s an iPad cover with no ability to absorb shock if you drop your iPad and you’re going to have to worry about it getting wet as well – because neither leather or iPads take kindly to liquids.  You’d be better off constructing a thick bag out of all the dollar bills you’d need to buy this thing.


Goop Label Classic G Tote for $285 “A gorgeous and hard-working weekender, carry-on, pool tote, diaper bag…This roomy, truly iconic tote is the perfect weekender, carry-on, or beach bag: it fits everything you need (laptops, books, toys, snacks…), and then some. The Italian vachetta leather accents are a chic and functional detail that defines and supports the structure of the pristine white-cotton canvas body.” 


Another leather bag, but this one is white!  So you’re even more paranoid about exposing it to anything outside of your home!


Poglia the Poglia Porter for $475“So beautiful it hurts.  Our signature “hat-holder” bag embodies classic design with a modern twist on utility. It seamlessly blends style and functionality, perfect for the traveler looking for a place to lay his/her hat.  At Poglia, we use one piece of vegetable tanned leather, nearly one half of a skin, to make our bags. That means fewer seams and improved overall durability. No two Poglia bags are the same. Each bag will retain markings from the original skin. We preserve these natural imperfections to enhance each piece’s character and individuality.”


Oh look.  Another leather bag out of my price range.  But this one holds a hat.


Best Made Seamless & Steadfast Enamel Gift set for $98 “Not just for camping. Coming to us from a legendary European manufacturer using World War Two era machinery, and reinforced with a double dipping of enamel, makes this is the most steadfast bowl in the land.”


It’s nice that they’re using old machinery to make this, but I don’t know if that justifies spending $100 on two place settings.  And if someone has asked you for place settings, I doubt enamel is what they want.  And if you’re buying for a camper, as enamel place settings are stereotypically used for, I don’t think they’d want to take the uber expensive sets out to the boonies.


Corroon the Weekender Bag for $400“Not too big, not too small.  This super lightweight bag is made for a chic getaway: it’s got plenty of interior pockets, plus a detachable clutch with three pockets. The cotton canvas body is stain- and water-repellent; with sleek leather accents and brass hardware, it manages to look elegant while still being totally utilitarian.”


Anyone else feel like they’re padding this list for “Travelers” with all the “chic” expensive bags they can find?  I’m running out of sarcastic comments concerning overpriced bags.


Rodin Travel Kit for $250 “Linda Rodin’s greatest hits in TSA approved sizes.  This kit of Rodin’s beautifying essential oils and creams comes in an adorable, perfectly giftable nude-pink pouch, perfect for stashing in your carry-on.”


I have heard this stuff is pretty incredible and I love trying out new facial/hair products (but not facial hair *badump bump*) so I wouldn’t turn this down.  Though I’m betting with Jasmine and Neroli oils, it’d be a pretty pungent smelling product.


Skagen Johannes Shave Kit Bag for $145“A good old-fashioned dopp kit.This timeless classic leather shave bag is lined with durable, water-resistant cotton twill, making it perfect for both everyday use and travel—you can easily fit all of your grooming essentials without having to worry about spills damaging the gorgeous leather.”


A spendy leather bag for men.  Another bag, really Goop?


White + Warren Cashmere Arm Warmer and Beanie Set for $208 “Endlessly useful when jumping climates.  A  little piece of luxury, these arm warmers are comforting, not to mention cozy, on a flight or anywhere—they keep your hands warm while leaving your fingers free. Wear the soft, extra-cozy cashmere beanie one of two ways: folded over for a snug fit, or straight-up slouchy.”


Other than that jet trip around the world, this is actually what I may want most off this list.  I adore cashmere and it is prohibitively expensive for someone lower middle class like I am.  This is a bit above average cost for a set of cashmere warmies, but if you were wealthy, I think this would make a great gift.  Now excuse me while I go find some less expensive cashmere gloves for my Christmas list.



White + Warren Cashmere Travel Wrap for $330 “Turns into a scarf as needed.  In luxuriously soft cashmere, wrap this around you to cozy up instantly, whether in-flight or just for lounging at home—ideally with the matching Cashmere Eye Mask & Cashmere Ballet Slippers Set, and Cashmere Plush Rib Arm Warmer & Cashmere Plush Beanie Set for a completely, blissfully cozy in-flight (or at-home) experience.”


Just read what I wrote for the gloves and beanie but insert the word “wrap” instead.


White + Warren Cashmere Eye Mask & Slipper Set for $187 “On board or in the hotel.It may seem like nothing more than a little luxury at first glance, but this petal-soft cashmere sleep mask serves a very important purpose, blocking out any excess light that may be preventing precious shut-eye.”


Third verse, same as the first.  Only I wouldn’t want the slippers.


Goop Travel Beauty Kit for $150 “Our favorite minis for a bit of indulgence anytime, anywhere.  The ultimate feel-good-anywhere essentials, wherever your journey has led you, these are our all time-favorites for plane, hotel room, and beyond.”


We get it, people are extra ugly when they travel…at least according to Goop standards.  Also, this is one of four travel beauty kits on this list.  It does include a few tiny portions of some of the other things advertised on this guide, so if you want just a little bit of everything (including a bag!) maybe shell out $150 for this.


Ursa Major Traveler’s Skincare Kit for $41 “For the dudes.  This best-gift-ever assortment of on-the-go skin care essentials includes Ursa Major’s Fantastic Face Wash (2 oz), 4-in-1 Essential Face Tonic (2 oz), Fortifying Face Balm (0.5 oz), and Essential Face Wipes (5 singles), each of which is a tried-and-true goop team favorite. (Bonus: Men love it as much as women.)”


The final travel toiletries kit on the guide.  This one is only $41 but I’m guessing it’s because it doesn’t come with a bag.  And just so you know, I hate it when toiletries get sorted into gender specific recommendations.  Some men like floral scents, and some women like scents like leather and cedar.  Get over it.


Alternative Apparel Good Travel Gift Bundle for $98 – “Plane outfit goals.”


Don’t get me wrong, these are cutie patootie clothes.  But I don’t really want to pay $100 for sweats when I can pick some up online for about $12.  Also, I hope you don’t want to buy these because all the links to them are broken.  This might be a good gift for the person who has to have an expensive set of plane clothes.  But I don’t know anyone who lives in that reality, so I can’t be sure of that.


Lauren Manoogian Cashmere Crown Beanie for $220 – “Simple and Unisex.”


Now they’re just trolling us by putting nearly identical items on the guide.  You can get a high quality cashmere toque for much less than this elsewhere, too.  Also – another broken link.


The Miles Guy Service starting at $375 – “The Miles Guy takes whatever credit card points and frequent flyer miles you’re sitting on and turns them into travel gold.”


So this guy has capitalized on the horrible combination of people’s laziness and the gordian knot that is the miles and points system employed by credit card companies.  He takes all your points and air miles and finds the best way to use them.  Pretty clever for him and if you’re a rich person who still cares about using miles and credit card points but no time to get them to work for you this might be useful.  Or if you’re a rich person who is too cheap to pay for a friend to travel with you but not too cheap to pay someone else to help them use their own miles and points to come with you.

There you have it.  All of Goop’s best ideas and products for the person you know who travels a lot.  Whether that travel is by plane or with packs – they’ve definitely got the bag for you and the toiletries kit.  Open up your wallets.


A Recap of the Library

I, like The Bloggess, have an aversion to the number 13.  So when she came up with the brilliant idea of calling 2013 “the library” to avoid unpleasantness, I jumped on board.  I’m pretty thrilled that it’s over.  It wasn’t such a bad year, but let’s just say I’m happier to be writing 2014 on my dates instead of the other number.

Kristen Howerton of Rage Against the Minivan posted this and she took it from All & Sundry…and I’m taking it and running with it.  Here’s my recap of the library.

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

I became an Independent consultant for Thirty-One gifts.  I’d considered becoming a consultant for a few other direct sales companies before, but something about Thirty-One just resonated with me.  I became an aunt for the first time (and the second) this year.  I joined the MOPS steering team and participated in ministry leadership for the first time in almost ten years.  There were of course things like being mom of a 2 year old and cooking with cabbage, but they aren’t as exciting.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I actually didn’t make resolutions for the library, but instead decided to participate in One Word 365.  My word for the library was grace and although it didn’t impact me as much as I would’ve liked (I’m not perfect yet) I’m still looking forward to integrating 2014’s word, which is “intentional”.  I’d like to make more moments count with my family.  I’d like to make better decisions on running my business instead of what just feels right at the time.  And I’d like to eat healthier, read my Bible more, and basically make better use of my life – which means being intentional about the use of my time, energy, and money.  And it’s not really a resolution, but we’re going to try going gluten-free.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes!  My brother-in-law and his wife gave birth to my nephew, Jude.  My other brother-in-law and his wife gave birth to my other nephew, Eli.  And my friend Elle had a baby boy, Logan.  Lots of boys!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Yes, my paternal grandmother passed away this autumn.  I miss her.

5. What countries did you visit?

Um, the U.S.  Which is where I live, so super exciting.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

Peace, confidence, and rest.  And a potty trained kid.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Not specific dates, but some of the moments of my panic attacks will probably stick with me because they were so intense.  The sight of my daughter as she fell onto an escalator in Macy’s and had her fingers ripped open.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Probably not dying.  That feels like an achievement every year.  Getting the flooring replaced in our living room/dining room/kitchen, but that was more my brother than me.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Managing stress.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Yes.  I was diagnosed with depression at the end of 2012, and an anxiety disorder early in the library.  We’re still trying to get my meds sorted as well as trying to get my platelet function where it needs to be after my 2012 stroke.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

My starter kit for Thirty-One gifts.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Probably food and our daughter.  Kids are expensive.

13. What did you get really excited about?

Our new flooring.  Fourth of July.  My daughter’s birthday and her Christmas.  Winning an Xbox One (shallow, I know).  My nephew being born.

14. What song will always remind you of 2011?

Bahaha – What Does the Fox Say?  My daughter loves that song.

As I Lay Dying…

So a year ago today, this happened.

I’ve not quite gotten to the point where I feel comfortable talking about everything that happened that day from my point of view, but I like pushing myself so we’re going to give it a whirl.

That was not a good week – the day before, Jason’s youngest brother had been denied re-entry into Canada (where he lives with his wife) and we’d gotten news that some of our closest relatives, Jason’s other brother and brother’s wife had suffered a miscarriage.  Our family was under spiritual attack and we didn’t know why, we were all simply reeling.  Jason’s parents were coming to visit and I had let Canadian brother (Scott), entertain Lucy while I picked up the house a little bit and got ready for the latest visitors.  Jason even left work early to come help me and to be there when his parents arrived.

About four o clock, Scott and I set out to run some errands.  This included a run to Dutch Brothers, my favorite coffee stand.  When they handed my drink out the window, I suddenly felt very tired and lethargic.  My left arm felt like it was moving through water, as if I were pushing it through resistance.  I shrugged it off as an oncoming migraine (I’d been having a lot of those lately) and paid, then we went to Target.  Scott wandered off to look at video games and I ran to get teething tablets and diapers.  I had to lean heavily on the cart, I felt exhausted and dizzy.  I was still thinking a migraine, as my medical history has taught me to be aware of arrhythmia and chest pain – there were neither.  In fact, I wasn’t in any pain at all and I wasn’t the slightest bit concerned about what was happening to me, just annoyed.

A side note into all this – the clot was in the right side of my brain.  This is the side which not only manages the left half of your body, but also reasoning, problem solving, and social cues.  The part of my brain designed to tell me that something was wrong is the part that was being suffocated and damaged.  I wasn’t aware that by this point, Scott was very concerned about me.  It also is the part that is mostly likely controlling emotions, which is partly why through the entire stroke event and treatment, I never felt afraid.

Scott asked if I was doing alright as we left Target and it very briefly occurred to me that I should ask him to drive.  But I’m stubborn and proud and it was a little over a mile to our house so I didn’t ask.  He grew more concerned and asked me repeatedly if I was okay when I nearly swerved into a car changing lanes, and had to do three-point turns every time we needed to make a left hand turn (three times).  I just kept thinking I’m just tired, I need a nap.  Just need to get home to nap.  When we pulled into the driveway, I realized I had to lift my left arm off my leg with my right and open the door with my right hand.  I managed to swing my lower body out of the car and placed my coffee in my left hand – and immediately dropped it on the ground.  Which made me irrationally really angry.  I leaned over to pick it up and fell out of the car.

Scott ran to see what had happened and I continued to assure him I was fine, I just needed to get inside and sleep.  He tried to help me up and we couldn’t manage it.  By this point, I was getting confused, slurring words, and mixing up parts of my body as I talked about them.  Scott ran in to get Jason.  When Jason came out, he asked me if I was okay.  I emphasized that I just wanted to go inside and sleep.  I kept telling him something was wrong was my right side, when it was actually my left side that was completely paralyzed.  He gave me that “you’re somewhat ridiculous” look and told me if I could get up on my own and walk to the door, I could take a nap.  Which I obviously couldn’t, so he managed to get me in the car, give brief instructions to Scott and we headed to the ER.

The ride is somewhat of a blur, I do remember him asking me many inane questions over and over (the number of times I had to tell people throughout the evening that Obama was President was ridiculous).  I recall the nurses coming to get me from the car, but everything else is blank until they took me to get a CT scan.  By this time, my parents were there, as well as my pastor.  When they read us the results of the scan indicating a large clot (actually two), I thought well, that’s ridiculous.  That sounds like I’m having a stroke and strokes are for old people.  I’m only thirty.  Guess I get to have my head shaved.  They administered tPA (a stroke medication) but it didn’t have much effect on me.  They were continually asking me if I felt this or if I could move that and nothing was happening, which was frustrating but beyond that didn’t concern me.  I dozed on and off and every time I woke up, there were more people in the room – my sister and her boyfriend, my brother and his wife, my father-in-law and Scott.  I kept wondering why they were allowing so many people to be in my triage room and it was only later that I realized it was because they didn’t expect me to live.  I kept looking at Jason and thinking he looked so worried, I needed to cheer him up and reassure him.

If you’ve read his post, you know they were planning on airlifting me from almost the very beginning.  They prepped me for flight and I said goodbye to my family, borrowing my sister’s chapstick and again getting frustrated that I couldn’t open it one handed.  I later found out that they gave my husband a less than 33% chance I would still be alive when he reached me at Sacred Heart.  The helicopter ride was cold and bumpy – they had to give me something for nausea.  And I still remember seeing the lights glinting off my wedding rings (although that could’ve been my brain filling in what I usually saw on my finger) even though they weren’t actually there.  I was piled in warmed blankets and slept most of the way.  As we landed, I could smell rain.  I went straight to surgery check-in and prep.  The admins kept asking me to sign things and the nurses kept yelling at them that I was having a stroke – and I kept interjecting with “no, I’m right handed, it’s okay!”  And the last thing I remember before surgery was the doctor patting me on the arm and saying, “you’re going to do fine…”

I still don’t think I’ve processed everything that happened that day and week, it may take me a long time of talking and working through it.  I have a lot of thanks to share – with Christ who not only saved my life, but my soul so that if things had turned out differently, I still would be okay.  With my husband and Scott for their quick reaction time to my distress.  With my in-laws for watching LP and especially my father-in-law for driving my extremely distraught husband three hours to the hospital I was airlifted to.  With my pastor for being there for my family, for preaching a timely sermon the Sunday before, for being encouraging through the entire ordeal.  With my Bible Study and small group friend family for providing meals, with my parents for continually supporting us, driving up to visit us in the hospital, for helping out with Lucy, and for helping me the past 12 months as I continue to recover.  With the amazing baristas and baristos at Dutch Brothers who encouraged us, made us laugh, and plied us with decaf coffee this past year, helping me confront my fears of returning to the places I was at when I was suffering from my brain being starved of oxygen.  And with the literally hundreds of people who were praying for me around the world the entire night of my stroke and beyond.  With every single person who donated to our giveforward account and helped us cover medical expenses our insurance denied.  With our lawyer for fighting the insurance company on my behalf, and with the doctors and nurses for skillfully making decisions concerning my care and performing tests and surgeries – both at Kadlec and Sacred Heart. So much to be thankful for, such a family of support, such a blessed life.