The Friends You Need

standard May 22, 2017 Leave a response

When I first moved to the United States I was 7. For the first 6 months I barely spoke a word of English, was baffled by how school worked, and had no clue at all about to communicate with the kids in my class, let alone actually make friends with any of them.

Not a problem.

The kids in the class did the math, realized that I was rounding out what had previously been an odd number of girls and promptly assigned me to be Heather’s best friend. At least I think her name was Heather. It could have been Prudence. Or Phoebe. I don’t actually have the faintest recollection of her name.

Heather (let’s just go with that, shall we?) and I had nothing in common. Or maybe we just couldn’t communicate and so were never even able to discern if we had some common ground. Whatever the reason, we really didn’t gel. The girls took terrible offense at this and spent the rest of the year making fun of me for every little thing I did.

So I became friends with Simon, the other class outcast, who spent all his recesses trying to dig a hole under the playground fence. Presumably to escape. I liked him. He had zero expectations of me beyond handing him new sticks when the one he was using to dig broke.

I only stayed at that school one year. Could be because the girls made me cry daily  or because my parents didn’t think much of the teacher, it’s unclear. I didn’t care, I was 8 and delighted to get away.

Oddly enough, I took away with me a deep rooted belief that you need to have a best friend to get ahead in life.

Which is especially funny because I’m not a one-friend kind of gal. Never have been. I’m more the kind of person who will have a number of ride-or-die friends to whom I’m wholeheartedly devoted.

  • I have the girl friends that I go out with at least once a week to bitch and laugh about the minutia of mundane life.
  • I have the friends I like to connect with to talk about books and our big picture philosophical take on life.
  • I have the friend who started as a work-buddy and turned into a I’ll-always-have-your-back-no matter-what real life friend who I happen to work with still.
  • I have the friends I used to work for/with whose friendships transcends distance of every kind.
  • I have my blog buddies who, over time went from being virtual pals to real flesh and blood I’d fly to the ends of the world to be with you if you needed me friends

It’s not one best friend. It’s a posse of people I would literally drop everything to help should they ever need it. It’s a support network of angels who would totally do, and have done, the same for me.

Those girls at that school had it all wrong and I’m glad that over the years I’ve finally understood that they were utterly wrong about their small minded approach to friendship. You don’t need one friend to get ahead in life. You need to surround yourself by people who truly see you and love you for who you are, even if they only see and love one aspect of the whole you.  Recognizing that is how I have woven myself the kind of relationships that complete me in every way.

Only you can define the friends you need. Not family, society, or that brat in 2nd grade.

2nd grade class. Photo blurred to protect the innocent from facial recognition software. Except for mine. Because I was totes cute.

 

 

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A WOW Air Review – Get the Lowdown

standard April 20, 2017 1 response

Please note: I am writing this WOW Air Review of my own volition after having experienced WOW Air at my own expense. 

WOW Air Review

A few weeks ago I got a call from my sister at 7 am that had me sitting at my computer 5 minutes later googling flights to Paris. From San Francisco. Leaving that morning.

Crazy, right?

Well, turns out, not so much. In fact, that’s how my love affair with WOW Air began.

I hadn’t even heard about Wow until that day. And yet, moments later I was booking a flight and getting ready to pack my bags.

Cost of the round-trip flight? Just under $500.

That’s right. I booked a transatlantic flight three hours before take-off and paid less than $500.

I have to admit that I didn’t waste much time questioning my luck. I booked, and hustled. In less than three hours I had to make childcare plans, prep school lunches, and pack a bag. It wasn’t until I was sitting at the gate that I paused to wonder if I’d gotten myself into a situation I was going to regret.

It’s one thing to fly a cut-rate airline when you’re going just a state or two away. It’s a whole other ballpark when you’re going to be traveling to the other side of the world and it’s going to take the better part of two days. That said, I didn’t exactly have a choice. Time was of the essence and I really didn’t relish the thought of shelling out $2k to fly a more “traditional” airline.

Turns out, I worried for nothing. Suffice it to say, I was so delighted with my WOW Air experience that I have since taken my whole family back to France with meWOW Air flights all the way!

I heard from a friend yesterday that it was hard to find a legitimate WOW Air review, so I’m sharing my experience with you all in case you’re intrigued by these ridiculously low prices and are worried you’ll be flapping your arms all the way to Europe.

The WOW Air Review: what to expect when flying WOW Air

1 – You get what you pay for

Everything on WOW Air has a price, from whether you can choose your seats to how much luggage you can bring with you. The price you see is the bare bottom price. Seat + personal item (aka purse or backpack). You can pay for each carry-on or suitcase, or you can “upgrade” to the other two fare levels (Plus or Biz to include the price of luggage etc.)  The four of us just flew to Paris and I purchased two “basic” seats and two “pro” seats so that we could bring two suitcases and two carry-on bags. It was perfect. (I did have to purchase my tickets in two different orders because I couldn’t select two different price points. I have a feeling this is a glitch that will be eventually addressed.)

You can purchase food and beverages on board for about the same price as on every other flight. (Pizza or sandwich for about $9.) Food was very adequate. Nothing is free. Not even water. They take all major credit cards. No cash.

2 – No TV screens or music

WOW Air is pretty minimalist, so no screens on the backs of the seats or music playing from your armrest. That said, you can rent iPad minis on board that come pre-loaded with a bunch of movies and games for $16. Considering the fact that on other airlines you sometimes have to pay $8/movie, it’s a deal and a half. Good movies too. With a few that are kid appropriate. Oddly enough, they seem to be partial to Benedict Cumberbatch movies, but who isn’t?

So far all WOW Air planes I have flown have had outlets at each seat, so no worries about running out of juice.

3 – Great staff

So far I have been delighted with the WOW Air staff, both at the airport and on the planes. They’re helpful, gracious, and polite. Way more so than some airlines I won’t mention. Plus, they wear uniforms that hail from the 1950’s and it’s beyond charming.

4 – They don’t mess around with carry-on luggage size

Every bag is carefully assessed when you’re checking in. Small “personal” items are tagged to go under the seat. Bigger items for the overhead compartment can be paid for, but must also meet weight and size restrictions. You will not be able to skate. If your bag doesn’t fit the bag sizer it will not go on with you. End of story. If your back-pack is too big, they will charge you. There’s something kind of nice about this no-nonsense approach to the whole thing. Maybe it’s my European blood, but I like a good rule enforcement.

5 – No boarding groups or such shenanigans

WOW Air boards planes on a first come first serve basis. (Except for families and people with special needs who are invited to board first.) They start boarding almost an hour before the flight takes off and, because they’re so strict about the carry-on situation there’s none of the usual overhead luggage drama that can sometimes make boarding so damn stressful.

6 – No first class – everyone in the same boat…er…plane

WOW Air considers all customers to be equal. So, good news, you can totally use the bathroom at the front of the plane! Need a bigger seat? You guessed it, you can buy one. Want to sit closer to the front of the plane? That’s right, you can buy that too.  Need extra leg room? Need I say it? Seat options can be found here.

7 – Iceland? Yes.

Every WOW Air flight lays-over in Reykjavík, Iceland. The Keflavík International Airport is small and somewhat reminiscent of a freshly built Ikea. There are limited options for food, but you can definitely find a couple sandwich options. There’s also a well stocked Duty Free store where you can purchase some Icelandic knits and stuffed puffins along with your booze and chocolates.

 

So, to recap, WOW Air is a minimalist airline that believes in only making people pay for exactly what they want. The seats aren’t overly plush, the offerings aren’t overly abundant, but for an incredibly reasonable price, you can fly to and from Europe quite comfortably.

Would I fly WOW Air again? I already have and am planning on doing so again soon.

Would I recommend WOW Air to a friend? Already have. And now I’m recommending it to you.

WOW Air Review

Please note: I was in no way compensated for this review. I am writing this of my own volition after having experienced WOW Air at my own expense. 

 

Once you’re in Europe,
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I am their mother. This is my job.

standard March 1, 2017 Leave a response

When my children were little, the urge to guide them, protect them, shield them from the world was something I felt deeply in my bones. Even as I watched them struggle to learn new things, I found it hard to stand back, to not rush in to make it easier for them. I remember knowing, deep in my gut, that they needed to struggle, needed to feel the rush that comes from hard won success, needed it to grow and learn, but, nevertheless, struggling with it.

I’m their mother. Their guardian. Their protector. Their teacher.

It hurt to not fix, smooth, facilitate.

Logic almost always won out and I held myself back from intervening (unless they were in danger, because come on, mother, not monster). I even coached various family members who had a tendency to jump in with help before it was really needed, held them back gently so that the kids could claim their victories.

And then, as they grew, the challenges got bigger.

Instead of learning to scale a chair, they had to face the first day of Kindergarten.

Instead of figuring out how to tie a shoe, they had to learn to navigate the friendship seas.

Instead of puzzles featuring puppies and ponies, there were schedules, homework, relationships.

And, in parallel, the urge in me to fix, smooth, facilitate has gotten stronger and stronger.

I don’t remember the first time I tried to get on a chair, but I remember trying to understand how I fit in with the other kids at school.

I don’t remember struggling to tie my shoe, but I remember the pain of losing friends.

And every day that my kids come home, hurt because of some slight, or upset because they don’t quite understand the murky interpersonal waters of the pre-teen pool, a piece of me shrivels up a little.

I want to fix it. I want to make the pain just go away. I want to find the magic words that will make it all better.

And then tonight, as I was doing some much needed laundry, I remembered, that’s not my job.

My job is to give them the tools and resources they need to succeed, whatever that will look like for them.

My job is to encourage them to be their truest selves and gently guide when guidance is requested.

My job is to send them off with hugs and love so that they know that, however far they roam and whatever they do or face when they get there, they do so knowing that they are unconditionally loved and supported.

My job is to offer a safe place to land, a warm set of arms to hold them when the world is proving inhospitable, a soft kiss on their brow creased with angst.

And then, my job is to send them back out to keep on trying.

Because my job isn’t to fix them, to fix their path, it’s to be their support, their safety net as they become who they’re meant to be.

I am their mother. My job is to have faith in them and in everything they have learned and continue to learn from me, from their father, from the rest of our family, and to believe that they will be OK, even if their path isn’t the easy one I would have chosen for them.

And damn if it isn’t the hardest job in the world.

toddler walking away

 

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5 Gift Ideas for the most important person: You

standard February 16, 2017 Leave a response

5 Subscription Box Suggestions

So, the holidays have passed and now, finally, so has Valentine’s Day, which means that, unless your birthday is conveniently located in the dead of summer, you have long, long months to wait until someone gets you any nice presents.

You know the solution, right?

Time to get yourself something nice. Preferably in a service that delivers surprises monthly.

I’m not ashamed to say that I subscribe to a couple monthly boxes. OK, maybe one monthly and two quarterlies. Don’t judge. I like getting presents. Especially presents I got for myself, but didn’t have to pick out.

Here’s the rub. With the millions of new subscription boxes that pop up every week, which one should you treat yourself to? Lucky you, I asked my Facebook friends to suggest a few good ones. And no, they’re not all dirty.

(Note, I’m skipping all the food prep boxes. They’re all fine and dandy, but a subscription box that assigns you work is no gift.)

1. StitchFix*

Stitch Fix Subscription Box

Yes, you’ve heard of it. Yes, you’ve seen the countless Facebook posts showing off what people have received. So why haven’t you tried it yet?

Personally, I adore StitchFix. When that box arrives every month, I feel a little thrill. Before I open the box, I make sure that I have enough time to really savor what it contains…and that no one is around to taint my enjoyment.

To be brutally honest, I don’t love every single box. Sometimes I send everything back, sometimes I keep just one item. A handful of memorable times I’ve purchased the entire box and happy danced around the room because of my beautiful new clothes AND the 25% off the final price. The pieces I have kept have been in steady rotation and get me the most compliments of all the things I own.

Details: Subscription is $20/box. If you buy something, that $20 is credited to your purchase. If you buy everything in the box, you get 25% off. Bonus: StichFix is now available for men and for maternity wear.

2. FabFitFun*

FabFitFun Subscription Box

I’ll admit to hesitating before signing myself up for FabFitFun because I worried I’d be getting a box filled with random stuff that I wouldn’t either really want or know what to do with. Fact of the matter, it is a box of random stuff, but I’ve loved each one I’ve gotten.

Opening the box, which arrives quarterly, is kind of like opening a packed treasure chest filled with a mixture of beauty supplies, fun doodads, and a few fitness related items. I’ve received scarves, jewelry, yoga towels, hair serum, coloring books, tote bags, make-up, candles… you name it, it’s probably going to show up in a FabFitFun box one day.

This is one subscription box that truly makes you feel like you’ve gotten yourself an indulgent gift filled with little things that someone took special care to choose for you.

Details: You can sign up for Seasonal Membership to be charged $49.99 quarterly, 3 weeks before the box ships. Or you can sign up for an Annual Membership for $179.99 charged when you sign up. Annual Members have the option to select the items that go into their box before it ships. Seasonal Members receive a total surprise. All Members are allowed to purchase “add-ons” to supplement their boxes. Add-ons are generally items left over from previous boxes.

3. Roost Crate

Roost Crate Subscription Box

So, remember that thing I said up there about not including food boxes? Well, this one is an exception, but only because Roost Crate sends you carefully curated “treats” rather than ingredients you need to assemble and cook. While I personally have never tried this particular box, my Facebook friends swear by it. What you’ll get is a monthly box filled with 4-6 farmer’s market type products that could be found at local Upstate NY & New England stands and shops. Think handmade, artisan items like jams, honey, sauces and snacks; candles, soaps & scrubs, home & kitchen items and of course coffee & teas. This delectable box is curated by food blogger Kelly Pugliano.

Details: Select month-to-month for $39.95, three-months for $109 or 6 months for $219. Boxes ship on the 20th of each month and include 4-6 carefully curated non-perishable items.

4. Ipsy

Ipsy Subscription Box

So, this subscription box is hands down the favorite for my make-up loving friends. For a mere $10 a month (no, that’s not a typo) you get a “glam box” filled with deluxe samples and full sized beauty products. People rave about this box.  To get started you have to answer a bunch of questions about your skin type and color, make-up preferences, and product likes. On the Ipsy website you’ll find some amazing tutorials and videos related to the products that get sent out. You know, in case something arrives that leaves you scratching your head.

Details: $10/month, no apparent discount for signing for more more than a month at a time. You might get placed on a wait list when you sign up, but rumor has it the wait list moves fast. There’s a somewhat obscure “points” reward program, which I happily invite anyone familiar with to explain in the comments below. Certain “extra” products can also be bought on the site for additional fees.

5.  Bawdy Bookworms

Bawdy Bookworms Subscription Box

Here’s the deal, I won’t ask what you read when you tuck yourself into bed at night if you don’t ask me what’s on my Kindle. Ok? Phew, I’d hate to have to admit just how much fantasy fiction I read. But, if you’re the kind of person who likes the odd sultry romance, then this subscription box is definitely for you. At least, it is if we’re to believe my Facebook friends, many of whom were quick to recommend Bawdy Bookworms, prompting me to go check it out.

Dude. It’s the ultimate self-gift.

And I mean that in every sense of the term.

In short, every month, you receive in the mail a steamy read and…ah…an accessory or two that will help you take care of any urges the book stimulates.

Bawdy Bookworms was born when friends kept asking the founder (popular blogger Thien-Kim Lam) for advice on what to read after Fifty Shades or recommendations on the best bedroom toys. She dreamed up this subscription service and the accompanying members’ forum where people can come discuss books, toys, or anything else they don’t feel comfortable discussing in a more public space.

Details: If you’re into surprises, sign up for the quarterly subscription for $34.95. If you like peeking, then consider some of the boxes for sale on the site. Prices range from $57.95 to $29.95.

 

*Please note: links to StitchFix and FabFitFun are affiliate links, which means that, should you sign up for either of these subscription boxes, I would get a small commission. All other recommendations are shared with zero strings attached. 

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