Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My Potty Mouthed Children

This post could go so many directions.  :-)  My kids are completely obsessed with bodily functions and the mere mention of "poop" or "pee" or "toots" leaves them breathless and doubled over with laughter on the floor.

But, I just wanted to keep this post short and sweet and describe this recent struggle we've been having with the kids.  It's around a word that's not THE worst word they could use, but I'm sure you'll agree - it's a word you really just don't want little kids using.

It started last week when Knolan was chasing the cat around the main floor.  Kaycie - who has a penchant for drama and bossiness lately - arrived at the top of our stairs with a loud, exasperated sigh and stomped down the steps, put her hands on her hips and bellowed, "Knolan, leave that damn cat alone!"

Ken and I looked at each other and then looked at her in disbelief.  Not only do neither of us ever swear in front of the kids, but neither of us actually ever uses the word "damn" at all!  And...this was the little girl that frequently reminded us that the words "hate" or "stupid" were not very nice words to use.  We quickly set the record straight and let her know that "damn" was not an appropriate word to use, and that it could actually be considered to be a swear word.  She quickly promised she wouldn't use it again.

Since then, though, I have caught her using it again!  She walked out of the living room and into the kitchen the other day and tripped over the cat, and we heard her growl under her breath, "Damn cat!"  Another time, she opened the fridge door and - clearly distressed - wailed, "We're out of damn juice boxes?!"

I tried to ignore it, thinking that the more attention I paid to this new word, the more excitement she'd get out of testing my limits.

Then yesterday, I was driving the kids somewhere, and Kaycie pipes up from the back seat,

"Mom... you would be so proud of me!"

I said, "I'm always proud of you, cutie!  What did you do?".

"I didn't say 'damn' even one time at school lasterday!"  (and by 'lasterday' she means 'yesterday')

At that point I figure if she's making an effort, I'd better praise her.  I said, "That's great, Kaycie!  Good for you!" To which she says:

"Yeah!  And I told every single kid not to ever say the word 'damn'... wasn't that responsible of me?"

At that point, I launched into a little speech about how it wasn't good to say swear words... even if you think you have to use the word to tell someone NOT to use it.  Hard stuff for a 5 year old to process.

It was at that point where we heard Knolan.  And I must say - I need to give him credit - what he was doing was very creative, and so I can appreciate his reaction when I intervened.  He was in the back seat singing away to the tune of "MacArthur Park", but using only one satisfying word:

"Da-damn, damn, damn, damn, damn, damn, damn, damn, daaaamn, damn, damn, damn, damn, damn, damn, DAMN, DAMN, DAAAAAAAMN!"

(I should, at this point, acknowledge the contribution of my husband to this little scenario.  He has been introducing the children to Weird Al Yankovic, and their current favourite is "Jurassic Park" - a parody of...... *drumroll, please*  "MacArthur Park".  Seeee?  It's all making sense now, isn't it?)

I turned around and interrupted Knolan, saying, "Knolan!  You are not allowed to use that word." Without missing a beat, he stopped singing and groaned, "Awwww!"  You know the one.  The "awww" with the slight upper inflection at the end.  He was clearly disappointed.  LOL

I am relieved to report that Knolan's final crescendo of "damns" was the last I have heard of this particular word since Sunday evening.  I have a feeling that now that Kaycie has heard Knolan swear, she is working on new material.  We'll just have to see what tomorrow brings.  :-)

anger,cursing,emotions,exclamation marks,females,frustrations,people,persons,punctuations,questions,symbols,women

Monday, January 14, 2013

Have a Good Day!

I drove the section of the 401 that I used to take back and forth to university over the holidays, and although I drive that section often, I think because it was Christmas time, it made me a little bit nostalgic.  I was thinking about my family, and about how quickly time passes as you get older, and a fun little memory popped into my head.

One winter - probably around 1995 - my brother and I were driving home to our parents' house.  At least I am fairly certain Marcus was there with me.  If he wasn't, he'll at least be proud and pleased to know that I think he would be the perfect passenger to have there with me - a perfect blend of "let's keep Kirsten from freaking out" and "let's mock Kirsten mercilessly until she can laugh about this".  My sister's good at that too, but where my brother excels at supporting/mocking siblings in the confines of a car, my sister's canvas of choice is the complete darkness of a hotel room at 2am on a girls' overnight trip after an evening of fancy drinks at East Side Mario's.  

Ok...where was I?  Oh yes... it was a winter's day in 1995, and my brother and I were driving to our parents' house.  It was a sunny day - a sparkle was on the snowy fields, and my brother and I were carefree and listening to music and and enjoying the ride.

As was often the case, my gas tank was almost empty, so we pulled into a gas station to fill up.  Full Serve!!!  Yes!  Do you ever notice how there are hardly any full serve gas stations around any more?  Growing up, all of the gas stations in my small home town were full serve.  There was something fun about going to fill up with gas with my parents as a kid.  In small towns, everyone knows everyone, and I loved listening to my dad chat with my friend Christa's dad at the Petro Canada.  My dad would say, "Filler up!" and Bob would put the nozzle in the tank and then clean our windows and catch up with dad about the goings on in town.  As I got older and had to buy my own gas, it was fun to see the look on Christa's dad's face and hear him laugh when I would ask for $2.00 worth of gas - budgeting was never my strength.  Or there was the time when we went to go pick up one of the McKeon girls, and my mom honked the horn when we pulled up outside of her house and the horn sound stuck - it just kept on honking and honking and honking!  One loud, long embarassing honk!  Thankfully, all it took was what felt like an excruciatingly long and scenic drive through our town (scenic in that we got to admire all the people who were stopping and staring at us as we drove by) to the gas station, where Bob rescued us, made a few jokes and then cut the line to the horn.  Now THAT is full service - knowing you'll always be greeted with a smile.

I think it was at full service stations that I also developed my widely acknowledged intolerance for streaks.  There are few things that make the hair on the back of my neck stand up more than watching someone wash the windshield with a squeegie and seeing a little line of washer fluid left behind.  I am itchy even thinking about it!  Ken used to drive me crazy by purposely leaving a line of fluid on the windshield and then just smiling mischievously at me through the glass - triumphant.  :-)  I have to get out of the car and fix it, or I just can't go on.  For the record, teachers wiping off the chalkboard and leaving a little bit of writing showing would also make me crazy.  The WORST, though, is hearing people say "Feb-yoo-ary" instead of "Feb-roo-ary".  That makes me want to scream.  It's the reason I can't listen to the Killers anymore.  

I'm off on a tangent again.

So, my brother and I pulled into the station, and the attendant came up to the window.  Feeling happy and nostalgic, I chipperly said, "Filler up with regular, please!"  Marcus and I chatted away as the attendant washed the windows and filled the tank.  I am certain he must have done a good job, because if he hadn't, I would have got out of the car and fixed it, and what happened next could have been prevented.

Once the attendant was finished, he came back to the window and gave me my total.  I gave him my credit card, he ran the card and gave it back to me.  I signed it, handed it back to him, he tore off the receipt for me, handed it to me and said, "Thank you, ma'am.  Have a good day!"  I said, "Thanks!  You too!" and we waved goodbye, and I started the car, put it in drive and pulled away.

As I was pulling away, I happened to look in the rear view mirror, and this was what I saw:

Three completely panicked gas station attendants chasing my car and waving at me frantically.

So, I of course stopped the car and rolled down my window.  The attendants were all trying to explain to me that I had driven away with the hose.  I wasn't computing what they were trying to tell me, so I got out of the car, and to my surprise, I looked and saw that I had, in fact, driven away with the hose.  The nozzle was still resting comfortably in the opening to my gas tank, and the hose was trailed out behind it for about 10 feet!  I guess the guy had forgotten to remove the nozzle from the gas tank, but to be honest, if they hadn't noticed, I don't think I would have noticed either!  I'd have to check with my brother, but I don't even recall feeling anything different in the car as we drove away.  I can only imagine how hilarious that would have been - being pulled over by the police a few kilometres down the highway and rolling down my window to say, "What seems to be the problem, officer?"

Anyway, the staff at the gas station simply retrieved their nozzle and hose, and sent us on our way.  This makes me wonder whether the little stunt I had just pulled was an all too common occurence!  Nevertheless, you can only imagine the car ride home after that!  We must have laughed until our stomachs hurt. And then we got to tell Mom and Dad!  LOL

I am - now that I have put 15+ years between me and that day - happy to report that although I miss the days of full service, since the advent of self-serve stations I have not once ripped out another gas hose and nozzle that I am aware of.  Yay me!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Perfect Storm: My Descent Into Madness

Ok.  I am going to be brave and go out on a limb here.  You guys keep telling me this blog is relatable, and the posts I am most nervous to hit "publish" on are somehow the ones that keep y'all coming back for more.

So, I have decided to share my story with you.  It's a story of angst, despair, love, hate, a family torn apart, and a mother on the edge.

It is the story of my own personal descent into madness... it was "the perfect storm".

In case you haven't seen the movie, "The Perfect Storm" was the story of the confluence of two weather systems and a hurricane, and a sword-fishing boat and its crew that were caught in the resulting killler storm. If anyone has seen the final shot of Mark Wahlberg in that movie, then you will have the general idea of how I felt at the peak of my own private perfect storm.

This nightmare of a week was back in March.  We had been dealing with a very sick little Knolan for several days. Our child care provider had been quite concerned about him and we had been to the doctor several times trying to figure out what was wrong.  Ken was extremely busy with work and travel, and I was mere weeks away from a 600 person event that I was organizing for work.  Our days had been filled with stress about whose work meetings would have to be cancelled so one of us could stay home with Knolan, impossible days of trying to work from home with a sick kid, and wonderful help from my parents who did what they could when they could.

Finally on the night that I had planned to go for dinner with my good friends Tracey and Morgan (of Gingy fame), the doctor's office called to say that we needed to come in to get some of Knolan's test results.  Because Knolan was being so clingy and a real "mama's boy" while he was sick, Ken and I decided that I would take Knolan to see the doctor for the results before I went for dinner.  I was flat out refusing to miss dinner with my friends because I desperately needed a break and a venting session, but for some reason it was taking FOREVER for the doctor to see us.  I know I could have forced Ken to sit in the waiting room with a sick and crying 1 year old and his attention deprived sister at 7pm at night while I went for dinner, but unfortunately, I knew exactly how that little scenario would play out, and I wouldn't even wish that on my worst enemy.  So... being the control freak martyr that I am, I sat there with my little sicko, stressing about the time ticking away, obsessively checking with the receptionist about when we could see the doctor, and compulsively texting Tracey and Morgan to let them know what was going on and why I was late.

Please don't misunderstand.  I love my son with all my heart, but we had been suffering from sleep deprivation, had been in and out of the doctor's office for days and I was cranky.  I normally cuddle and snuggle my little munchkins when they are sick, but this time I just simply needed a break as much as I needed to get him the care he needed.

Plus, I had already made the two of them reschedule this dinner around my schedule once already.

Now, some people can handle being late for things.  I am one of those people who are chronically late for everything, but who also experiences physical symptoms of stress over being late.  When I was eventually 30 minutes late for dinner, I caved and begged Ken to come with Kaycie to wait to see the doctor so I could go meet my friends.  Just as Ken walked in, the doctor called us in and we found out that Knolan had pneumonia.  The poor little guy.  But at least we had an answer and we knew what we needed to do about it.  Ken was kind enough to send me on my way and he took care of everything else so I could just go and have a night out to re-charge.

So... off I drove as fast as I safely could to meet my girls.  The whole way my mind was swirling with thoughts of poor Knolly, work, being late, and juggling our schedules for the next few days.  When I finally found the restaurant, I zipped into an empty parking spot (thankfully just steps from our meeting place), and as I was backing up to finish off my victory in parallel parking, I felt and heard a soul-crushing "crunch" at the back of the car.

I froze.  Oh no!  Please no!

I tip toed (why? I don't know.) to the back of the car to see what sort of damage I had caused.  It sounded terrible - I assumed that I would be faced with a giant crumpled bumper.

As I peeked through my fingers, I suddenly had the happy realization that nothing appeared to be damaged.  Relief!  But then I realized that maybe someone had seen me hit this van behind me.  There was no damage, but would I look like the world's biggest jerk if I just walked away?  I spend a stupid amount of time just walking between the two cars looking busy and pretending to look for a pen while I debated what to do.  Eventually I decided that I would just go into the restaurant since it didn't seem that anyone had seen me.

I came flying into the restaurant full of apologies and hugs and the three of us jumped right into our night of thai food, catching up and lots of laughs.  But as we chatted, the guilt was consuming me.  Eventually I couldn't contain my anxiety, and in hushed whispers, I told the two of them what had happened and asked them for their advice - should I leave a note?  Should I look to see if they come back to their car and run out to tell them what happened?  The two of them - wise ladies that they are - advised me to shut up about it in case the owner of the van was in the restaurant and to stop stressing about it.

I am starting to sound like the fun time gang, aren't I?  I am normally a pretty fun dinner companion, but as you know, I was starting my descent into madness.

After a few bites of chicken, Tracey quietly asked, "which car was it you hit anyway?"  I subtly pointed past her and whispered, "that red van right there".  Tracey and Morgan both turned to see which car was the lucky victim, when the suddenly both burst into peals of choking laughter.  Tracey burst out laughing and said:

"Oh my gawd Kirsten.  You can relax.  It's just Morgan's car!"

Up until then, I had never experienced utter relief mixed with the aftertaste of new guilt.  I am happy to report, however, that nearly a year later I have still heard nothing from Morgan's insurance agent.  :-)

I went to bed that night thinking that my little driving stunt might be the last of my troubles.  Little did I realize that just 48 hours later I would have given my right arm to be back in the trouble free world of hit and run accidents.

The next day at work I was still dealing with lack of sleep.  Knolan was still waking up over and over and over again throughout the night.  I noticed that I just wasn't feeling like myself.  I felt dusty and tired and achy.  I tried my best to ignore it.

When I woke up the next day after another night of taking turns with Ken to go soothe our sick son, I knew that something wasn't right.  I was sure I was getting sick, but there was just too much to do at work to justify taking a sick day over feeling "off". As the day went on, I was getting the chills, and then I would be sweating 10 minutes later.  I had no appetite, every bone in my body was aching, and I was pale and fatigued.  Finally I had to concede defeat.  I turned to my boss, Hilda, with tears running down my face and told her I just couldn't stay at work.  Thankfully she reminded me that the work would be there once I got better and sent me home with a strict threat that she would send me home if I tried to come in the next day.

I finally made it home from work in tears, fevery, achey and collapsed into bed.  I spent the next two nights flipping between chills and night sweats, and I was in complete body agony.  I don't ever remember feeling sicker. Knolan was, of course, still getting better, but not quite back to his usual self.  Ken did his best to take care of all of us.

Then the next night Ken starts to feel sick

After a night of us both tossing and turning and as sick as we'd ever been, the light of the morning sun only magnified what horrible shape we were in.  We could barely function - our only motivation was to get kids OUT of house so we could sleep.

That's when I noticed Kaycie itching her head.





If you haven't experienced the joy that is lice, consider yourself among the fortunate. This particular bout with lice was our third time.  Lucky us.

Getting rid of headlice is one of the most excruciating, frustrating, tedious, back aching, character testing, family destroying, soul decimating exercises you can be forced into.  I think it might have been better if I had been new to the world of lice.  Having been through it, in that moment I knew exactly what was ahead of us and I wanted to drop to my knees and bawl my eyes out.  Here's how it goes (at least this is how it goes when you think that the insecticide shampoo is your only option - thankfully now I know about other ways of coping):  First, you need to apply a lice shampoo treatment to your child's head and then get them to sit still for 10 minutes while the shampoo takes effect.

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.  Sit still for 10 minutes.  With a chemical shampoo on their head.  Ha!

But it gets better!  Then you need to rinse it off and comb through their hair with a special comb.  Now, this is the FIRST comb through.  This one is to remove the bugs themselves.   You would think that this would be the part that would do you in.  Oh no.  I would comb these little suckers out all day and all night to avoid the next step.

The next step is where you literally have to find a way to get your kid to sit still for about 3-4 hours while you go through every single strand of hair on their head looking for eggs attached to strands of hair.  And when I say "literally", I really mean it in the truest sense of the word.  If you miss even one egg (which, by the way, are so, so, so very small.  Way smaller than a grain of salt or a bread crumb.  These little guys are teeeeeeeny.) the egg will likely hatch and your problem starts again.

And then you need to gather up everything in the house that your kid has slept on or played with or worn and start the many loads of hot water laundry required to ensure there are none of the nasty little bugs or eggs hitching a ride on something besides your kid's head.

And then you need to vacuum the whole house.  And you can't put off any of this for fear that the lice will keep multiplying and the problem will get worse.

You can only imagine Ken and I - who had mere moments ago been begging for mercy and had been completely frantic about how we would keep ourselves hydrated when we could barely walk to the washroom without wanting to die - were completely demoralized.  Demoralized doesn't even come close.  We felt defeated, but with no option to give up.

So, Ken started the lengthy task of ridding the house of lice and I started the process of going through Kaycie's hair. Strand... by strand... by stinking strand.

The paper thin strands of hair...humans have so much freaking hair!

Thank goodness for Netflix!

The enemy.

And if you are thinking that you are home free once you get through an entire head of hair, you would be mistaken.  These little menaces are elusive.  I have never been able to get away with just one comb through.  And you can imagine that after a four hour morning of two sick adults de-lousing a house and a head of hair that we would be completely "done".  And we were.  But we didn't have the option of throwing in the towel.

That night, when Knolan was back at home, I needed to do another comb through before Kaycie went to bed.  Ken, who was at the peak of this flu or whatever it was, hit a breaking point and took a bottle of Tylenol and a hot water bottle upstairs to cocoon for a while. So there I was, a toddler tearing apart the living room, and a poor little girl doing her best to cope, but like her mother, slowly decending into the depths of despair.  After all, there is only so long that a four year old can sit still for, and there is only so long a flu-ridden parent can hunch over a head of hair for.

You can only appreciate true desperation once you've experienced the fourth hour of your second comb through of the day when your child can simply no longer sit still, and your son has finished unpacking all of the bookshelves and cupboards on the main floor and has moved on to the house's infrastructure.

If you can picture it, there was one point where I was operating on about 3 hours of sleep, I was aching everywhere, coughing non-stop, clinging to a single itty bitty strand of Kaycie's hair for dear life so I wouldn't lose the teeny, tiny nit I had found.  At the same time as Kaycie imploded and started to cry and fling her head around, I imagined I looked like a pirate hanging off a sail, clinging to a rigging rope with every ounce of energy I had.  At that moment, tears of frustration were running down both my cheeks and Kaycie's face  when Knolan rips out the vent cover under the window and reaches into the depths of our heating vents.

I was a broken soul.  I literally grabbed the spray bottle of water I was using to comb through Kaycie's hair and I aimed it at my baby boy like he was a cat on the counter... or a terrorist.  Through clenched teeth and staring him down like a predator, I snarled at him to back away from the hole in the floor.  As he looked at me with maniacal eyes and moved away from the vent, I tracked him with my outstretched arm - water bottle still aimed squarely at his head. My descent into madness was complete.  Thankfully, I slowly came to my senses as I counted to 10 and I talked myself out of super soaking my son and I put down the water bottle, burst out laughing and crying and reminded myself that we'd get through the day... somehow.

And I am proud to say that just as I successfully negotiated myself off the ledge, Ken - in a burst of Tylenol-infused energy - came back to put Knolan to bed and to give Kaycie and me a wiggle break.  After a much needed laugh, a few tears, and a bowl of Rolo ice cream, we declared victory over the lice.  As we all drifted away to the sweet land of sleep, our perfect storm slowly passed over our house leaving only a few empty ice cream bowls and a ransacked house in its wake.

Monday, January 7, 2013

People Can Be Wonderful

The onset of a new calendar year feels like a bit of a clean slate.  I've never really been one for New Year's Resolutions - my last post was mostly tongue in cheek, and is the closest I've ever come to an official list of resolutions.  My preference is to see the clock striking midnight as a chance to forget about the nonsense of the past year that has been weighing me down and see the new year as chance for a do-over.  And the great thing about do-overs is that you have the benefit of everything you've learned while you were coping with the crap that the previous year threw your way!

2012 was a particularly difficult year for me, and in my mind, I have this self-centred daydream.  I picture me greeting 2013 by flinging open the doors to my imaginary Juliette balcony, leaning out over the balcony and breathing in the fresh, fresh air of the new year.  And then I look out and all of my friends and family are floating by in big hot air balloons cheering and fistpumping and waving and holding up signs that say things like, "You rock!" and "This is your year!" and "Don't fall off the balcony!".  

I say this because I have THE most wonderful friends and family that you could ever imagine.  I can't even begin to list all of the breathtaking gestures of love and kindness that I have been on the receiving end of this year - they all deserve their own blog post. I can only hope that when the time comes that I can be there for the people I care about in the same meaningful way that they have been there for me.

One of these gestures was just so fun and so uplifting and so visual, though, that I just knew I had to share it with people.  I work at a national organization and have become friends with colleagues who work in other provinces and who I rarely get to see.  One of the fantastic people I have been lucky enough to click with is my friend Monica.  Monica is one of those people who can put life into perspective while making you laugh.  Let's put it this way - it's a widely known fact that she keeps a can of root beer at her desk to be used only in the case of emergencies. LOL  She prides herself that she has only had to replace that can of root beer 4 times (last time I checked).  I love that her outlook on life is that a can of root beer can help any situation.  :-)

Back in August, I had been dealing with a variety of crappy challenges.  In the middle of that, I had to go see a dermatologist for a mole that had been behaving weirdly, and to make a long story short, it turned out that the mole was a basal cell carcinoma.  Cancerous... not the "bad" skin cancer, mind you.  It was easily treated.  All we needed to do was excise the mole and then see the dermatologist every 6 months for 3 years.  

Even though it really was nothing, it still freaked me right out.  When I mentioned it to Monica, she dropped everything and I remember the words she said to me so clearly:  "Kirsten, cancer is never 'nothing' - you are freaked out because cancer is not 'nothing' and freaking out is a completely reasonable reaction."  It was like someone had given me permission to not be brave and nonchalant about it even though all of the physiological evidence said it was nothing to worry about at all.  I was feeling like a doofus for making a big deal out of nothing, but really, my head was reeling with thoughts like, 

"I'll have to check 'yes' on every health form from now on that asks if I've ever had cancer" and 

"This means I have a greater chance of getting the bad kind of skin cancer" and 

"What if this means I am going to get a serious form of cancer?" and

"What if this means my kids have a chance of getting this?"

Monica and I had a great chat and I honestly felt so much better after I talked with her.  Like I said, she can put life into perspective and make you laugh at the same time... and that turned out to be just what the doctor ordered.  She challenged me to find humour in every part of my days - especially the crappy parts - and that has been a wonderful gift to me.  Laughter is one of my favourite things, and it is more of a tool for coping than I had ever imagined!  And that is why it is particularly ironic that when Monica called me a day or two later, begging me not to go home until a package arrived for me at work, I had just discovered that I had been walking around from noon until 4:15 pm looking like this... completely undetected behind the lanyard that my work pass hangs from.  

At least I had a good laugh with the two women I work with while I was waiting for this mystery package.

Anyway, I waited and waited and waited and finally the package arrived.  I called Monica right away - as instructed - so that she could hang out with me over the phone while I opened this unexpected gift.  What I found inside made me laugh and cry.  It was a care package from a friend who cared.  A care package full of AWESOME!

Here's what it looked like spread out all over my desk:

The first thing I zeroed in on and yanked out of that package was my very own emergency can of root beer!!!

And then there were lots of things to open... how did she know that I absolutely LOVE to open things?

Inside was this pretty card:

With this note:

Since I can't seem to rotate the image, I'll tell you what it says:

"Everything's okay in the end.  If it's not okay, it's not the end" - Carolyn Myers
Kirsten, I've been thinking about you lots.  The result?  A care package just for you.  Enjoy!  - Monica

And then I pulled out this little ray of sunlight!

I shared them with my kids, and it was truly a happy moment.

And then there was this DVD set that her co-worker had given her when Monica said she needed something to make me laugh (Thank you Laurie!)

And this new box of crayons made me feel like a little kid again!

With a new colouring book!  And Monica was right... it IS relaxing!  Especially if you manage to colour without your kids climbing all over you trying to STEAL your only colouring book!

The next thing I pulled out was this really lovely notepad.  It has all of my favourite colours in the design, and it has a nifty flap at the top, which the geek in me really enjoyed.

On the back of it, Monica had attached this note:

And then there was a new friend for me!

And of course, Michael the Mouse came with a little explanation:

And then there was chocolate!!!

(Which my daughter somehow managed to charm out of my hands.)

And soap.... which was so exciting to find in my care package because I used to have a little soap making business and I just love hand made soap!

Smurfette!  This gift was particularly appropriate given the shape of my nose (for a refresher, click here).  LOL  I especially appreciated that it was the old school version of Smurfette from my childhood.  :-)

And finally, my most treasured gift in the care package:

Monica had sent me a bookmark that she had tatted for me.  Monica is an extremely talented handicrafter and I just love this bookmark because she made it for me.  It is beautiful and it is from the heart.  I just love it.

Well, I'm a crier, and by the time I had pulled everything out of the package, I was laughing through my tears.  It was so much fun to open every little thing, and to imagine the fun she'd had putting it together.  It was definitely worth missing my train home for!

The experience of opening this really reminded me of my mom, who loves to give things she has made to the people she loves so that they will have something tangible that will remind them they are loved.  There really is something to that - to holding something physical in your hand that someone has intended for you.  In this age of emails and the internet and texting, there was something really earthy and grounding about getting that package in the mail.  I loved it and I thoroughly plan on doing that for someone when they need it too!

So, when I say that having a clean slate in 2013 is bettered by the things that I have learned in 2012, I am talking about things like this package.  I have learned that I have people in my life that will bolster me and uplift me through good times and bad times.  I have learned that humour will make the bad days a little easier, and will make the good days great.  And I have learned that in the midst of all of the terrible things that the human race is capable of, that most of us are really wonderful.