365 day patch gratitude challenge


365 days of gratitude will be my huge, foolish project — just call me Noah. Well, not Noah exactly because Noah is a boy’s name and I am a girl. Maybe Norah???

I thought it only fair that I give you a heads up that I am going to begin including a daily patch gratitude journal on my blog (on a special page named ‘Patch Gratitude’) as well as on the Tales from the Cabbage Patch Facebook Page. Now before you go getting all too excited about this, you should probably know that it is not going to be one of those butterfly and rainbow journals, although I may throw in the odd mushy sentiment every now and then because I think it is important that you know that I am not a complete and total whack job.

Even though I am quite capable of feeling all warm and fuzzy like, I tend to see things in this crazy life of mine in a more whimsical, humorous and twisted sort of way. Sometimes I even see things sarcastically. I know, it may be hard for you to believe it but I really do.

You are probably thinking, “Head Cabbage, how can you create a gratitude journal out of seeing something sarcastically?” Well, you will probably be surprised by this but it can be done by thinking outside of the box, a quality that I seem to have an aptitude for. Hmmmm, I wonder what that would like on a resume? The Head Cabbage’s strengths are: thinking outside of the box, sarcasm, whimsy, humour and twistedness.

All kidding aside, the real reason I want to begin a gratitude journal is simple. It is not because I am looking for some existential answers about the meaning of my life (that’s just way, way too deep at this stage in my life; although if some answers did happen to come my way, I wouldn’t shoot the messenger) but rather it is because I want to make sure that I am not taking anything for granted in my life, big or small.

While there are so many things in my life that make me feel happy and loved, all of which I am truly thankful for, I think there is something very tangible about acknowledging and journaling them. Rather than gratitude being a passive activity, I hope to become more present in my life by creating more grateful situations where I may not have seen them

in ordinary life

This makes me feel like breaking out into song … “the hills are alive with the sound of music” although I could never be as agile as the lady in the photo. Nope. I would have tripped and fallen on the way but still singing my heart out while flopping around on the ground.


Now that I am at home, I am concerned about slipping into a routine where I begin to take things for granted in my life, my relationships, and my surroundings. I want to be excited about the world around me by creating a positive new habit which has the potential to lead me in a direction I had never before considered. Who knows where this could lead, where I could end up? Hopefully, it is not to jail or in a straight jacket.

Is this going to be easy? Nope, not at all. I imagine it is going to be quite a lesson in patience, dedication, creativity, optimism, effort, commitment, and persistence which, when you think about it, are all really big words for ‘this is going to be freakin’ hard work’. Plus, as if all of this hard work wasn’t enough I am going to be making this public. Who in their right mind would do that?


Noah would never have let himself be made accountable by his circumstances. Nosireee. I wanna be like Noah only without the ark.

Looks like that is going to be me (assuming that at some point in time I am going to be in right mind). I need to make this public because I need accountability. While I have tried keeping a private gratitude journal a couple of times before (both times starting out with a gratitude bang but getting sidetracked by health issues, stressful business situations, fatigue, and whatever else happened to come along and veer me off course), I know that if I do not feel the responsibility of posting on my blog every day, I will likely veer off course again. Isn’t it Dr. Phil who says that ‘the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour”? Goodness knows that I do not need his voice competing with the other voices inside my head for the “I Told You So” award.

What I may need is your help along the way; I may need your gentle reminders that (please do be gentle for remember Dr. Phil might be lecturing me inside my head), if I haven’t posted an entry in a day or two, it is time. If I ever doubt my abilities, I may need some encouraging words to keep going.

what are you thankful for

Is it chocolate? I am always grateful for chocolate. Is it a good hair day? Nothing is better than a good hair day unless no one sees it.

I also hope that by posting a daily gratitude journal that you may be inspired to post along with me (either on the blog, on Facebook or in private) for what you are grateful for that day. We could begin a whole new gratitude movement right here in the Cabbage Patch and that, as Martha Stewart would say, is a good thing.

Gratitude: 1

Mundane: 0

PS: If you would like some ideas about beginning a gratitude journal, there are many sites on the internet to help you get started. Here are two of my favourites: www.365grateful.com and www.thxthxthx.com. I plan on my gratitude journal being a combination of the two.

PPS.: the link to my Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/talesfromthecabbagepatch/



the day the toilet died

tell me all about itIt’s been one of THOSE weeks. You know what I am talking about. Nothing goes right. You have one hot flash after another, well, maybe not you exactly, but some of you did. Everything you wanted to accomplish, you didn’t. Someone is upset. Someone else is pissed off at you. The cats love you one minute, hate you the next. They show it by completely trashing the box you were saving for the next shipment of Quirky Holiday Calendar Bags. Your telephone banking representative misunderstands your inquiry and disables your one and only banking card but you don’t know it until you make your next purchase and it is declined. You can’t sleep. You miss one day of cleaning the litter boxes and, when you remember, you need to call in a backhoe to help with excavation. You go to town but forget the shopping list. The dog died, well, no, not really but that would be really sad/bad if it did happen. And then you break the toilet.

Yes, you read that right. I. Broke. The. Toilet.  Before I begin this sad tale of woe, I would like to state that the toilet has been acting up for over a year now so what happened is not entirely my fault; I just happened to be the one who was using it when it died. That’s my story and I am sticking to it. Call it fate or call it bad luck. Either way, the toilet is screwed and now we need to buy a new one.

water is rising too fastWe have all been there. That moment when you flush the toilet but you know that something is wrong, very, very wrong. The water is rising rather than going down, down, down. So you wait and you pray to high heavens that that sweet release will come in the form of a swoosh taking everything away with it. Only it doesn’t. The water just stays there. Right at the rim. What to do? What to do?

I grabbed the plunger which was right beside the toilet. I hope you recognize this as proof positive that the toilet has indeed been acting up. Why else would someone keep a plunger right beside their toilet? It is definitely not there to spruce up the decor. You would never see Chip and Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper using one as a decoration in one of their bathrooms. Nooooooo. But we do because we’re special.

d079d3ad8d63ead15a20bc6b5ef76bbdAgain, I send prayers up to the high heavens and gently submerge the plunger. I want this toilet unplugged before Sauerkraut comes home. I want to prove that I am woman, hear me roar and that I can indeed fix this toilet all by myself. Because nothing, nothing, is worse than having to ask your significant other to go in and plunge the toilet after you have plugged it. That is, unless you have plugged someone else’s toilet and then you have to tell them. That is bad. Very bad.

Sadly, my prayers go unanswered. I cannot fix said toilet. I have to wait until my sweet, dear, lovable, kind, and unsuspecting husband comes home from work. Tick tock. Tick tock.

Here’s how the conversation went down when Sauerkraut got home:

Me:  How much do you love me?

Sauerkraut: A lot. Why? What did you do?

Me (somewhat insulted): Why do you always assume that I did something?

Sauerkraut: Well, when you ask me as soon as I get home ‘how much do I love you?’ I know that you did something.

Me (indignant):  Ok. You know how we’ve been having trouble with the toilet.

Sauerkraut: Yes.

Me: Well, it’s totally plugged this time. It won’t flush. The plunger doesn’t clear it and the water is right up to the rim.

Sauerkraut: You know there’s a trick to flushing the toilet. You have to hold ….

Me (annoyed): Yes, I know all about holding the handle down until you hear the water swoosh. I did that. I’ve been doing that since you first told me about it. It didn’t work. The toilet is plugged.

Sauerkraut (looking rather smug): Don’t worry about it. I’ll fix it.

Me: Good luck.

Now I'm ready to plunge

After about ten minutes, Sauerkraut aka ‘Mario the Plumber’ exits the bathroom looking both annoyed and more determined that ever.

Sauerkraut:  I’ve gotta go get ‘the snake’.

Me (totally embarrassed now): Oh my god. Not ‘the snake’.

Holy crapolla, this is way past serious. Now we need ‘the snake’.

According to Wikipedia, “a plumber’s snake is a slender, flexible auger used to dislodge clogs in plumbing. The plumber’s snake is often reserved for difficult clogs that cannot be loosened with a plunger. It is also sometimes called a toilet jack or electric eel”.   

I don’t know about you but just the terms snake, auger, toilet jack and electric eel are enough to make me want to curl up in a deep dark hole and hide forever and ever. Amen.


I got thisSauerkraut returns with ‘the snake’ after digging it out of the back shed. He makes a rather big deal about it, showing it off to me like one of those models on The Price is Right. It’s as if he’s saying, ‘And over here, ladies and gentlemen, is the Super Duper Snake, The Toilet Jack, The Electric Eel, the best darned clog dislodger in the whole entire universe!!!” Sauerkraut is super jacked now. He’s heading into the bathroom all stoked up like Rocky Balboa climbing those stairs in front of that building which I can’t for the life of me think of what its name is. But I’m sure you get my drift.

I wait in the living room, patiently, nervously. To me, it’s taking too long. I don’t know a lot about plumbing per se but I am fairly certain that the super duper snake, the toilet jack, the electric eel should have done its super duper dislodging by now. But it hasn’t and now I must find that deep dark hole in the middle of a forest in a far, far away land so that I can hide forever and ever and never be heard from again. Amen.

Out comes Sauerkraut. He’s looking totally defeated. Sweat is pouring down his face. I can tell he has worked that snake like he’s never worked a snake before.

Sauerkraut: It didn’t work. It’s official. The toilet’s broken. We need a new one.



Sauerkraut: You know I’ve never been defeated by a toilet before. The plunger always works.

Me:  deer-in-headlights

Sauerkraut: It’s okay. We’ll get a new one this weekend. It was a cheap toilet when I bought it and it never worked properly to begin with. You’ll just have to use the bathroom downstairs.



This is not good. The same day that I broke the toilet I also did something to my left knee. I did not twist it, fall on it or bang it. I merely sat down (not on the toilet but on the sofa; I know how your mind works) and the darn knee made a ‘pop’ sound. While I do not have much pain with it, my knee is making a horrible grinding noise upon bending and flexing. I can also feel it grinding when I place my hand on it. It’s totally grossing us out, this grinding knee sound of mine, because it sounds as if it is bone on bone grinding against one another. It is especially noisy going up and down the stairs and I now have to take the stairs one step at a time just so my knee won’t grind and just so I can use the toilet in the basement. It’s the equivalent of walking up hill in my father’s pyjamas in the blinding snow in my bare feet, well, you get my drift.

You would think that the insanity would have stopped there. But, nooooooooo, it did not. Yesterday, MC texted me asking me how things were going here in the Ottawa Valley. I foolishly told him what had happened. At first he misunderstood what I was texting; he thought I banged my knee on the toilet and somehow broke the toilet that way. I guess he thinks that my knee is made of steel. When he figured out what really happened, is when the madness truly began.

MC: Ahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! No Way!

Me: I kid you not. The toilet is done.

MC: That’s really impressive. This shit would only happen to you.

Me: Funny ha ha.

Then MC went quiet for awhile. I thought perhaps he was distracted by something else or that he was done texting. But, nooooooooooo.

My phone pinged once again announcing that a message had arrived from YC. This is what greeted me:

log in toilet

YC: I heard this was you.

Me: That little bastard.

YC: Well, from the sounds of it, it was by no means a little bastard.

Me: I meant your brother. I hope you two are having fun at my expense.

YC: So much, mom, you wouldn’t believe it.

Me: I’m glad that I have made your day. I bet you’re still laughing AND I bet you told HT (his girlfriend).

YC: Haha. At least you can be proud of how well you know your children.

Me: Dear God. She will never be able to look me in the eye.

YC: Or use the toilet. You know … because you broke it.

Me: WE’RE GETTING A NEW ONE!!!!!!!!!!!

And that was life in the Cabbage Patch this week. It probably makes your week look mighty good compared to mine unless you really have a bad job like a road kill picker upper or something gross like that. If that is your job, well, I am truly sorry for you. Hang in there; hopefully, something better will come along.

As you know, the entire premise behind this blog is based on a promise that I made to YC (I am to try or do something new at least once a week). I hope that, in addition to providing him and his brother with some new fodder for them to reminisce about at my, hopefully, Irish wake (remember that time mom broke the toilet?), they realize that plenty of new things went on here this week. I can honestly say that I have never broken a toilet before and I can honestly say that I have never heard a grinding noise coming from my knee. But the something new doesn’t just stop there.

This weekend Sauerkraut and I are going toilet shopping together. I can honestly say that this is something that I have never done before. It is impossible to adequately express the anticipation that I have over this; I can hardly contain my excitement. Nothing says romance quite like shopping for a new toilet. Maybe we’ll hold hands if we’re lucky.

Log: 1

Dignity: 0


PS: I left the links embedded in the Wikipedia definition about the plumber snake just in case you would like to learn more about snakes, augers, toilet jacks, electric eels. You may be one of those real book learner types who wants to know more about this fascinating subject. However, if you prefer to perform your own Google search about it, then be sure to include toilet + snake in the search; otherwise you will be shown all sorts of creepy crawly reptiles slithering past you. And, for that, you are very welcome.



happy namesake day, EC!

According to my Quirky Holiday Calendar which I made for EC, today is ‘Namesake Day’. Namesake Day “encourages you to explore the roots of your name, to find out if you were named after somebody, of something in particular, and to research and connect with people who share the same name as you”.


Not all of the quirky holidays in EC’s calendar are quirky; some are downright beautiful. Namesake Day is one such holiday. I am incredibly proud of and happy for EC and the man he has become. He is passionate, determined, intellegent, witty, sarcastic (not sure where he gets that from), loyal, is following his dreams, and remains true to himself always. Although I am sure that I have mentioned the reasons behind his given names in passing, I do not think that I ever took the time to sit down and really explain the meaning behind his names. Namesake Day provided the perfect opportunity to take that time and write him a letter.

It gives me great pleasure to share with you the letter I wrote to EC and placed in his March 6th quirky holiday bag. I hope it encourages you to explore your name or take a moment to explain to your child(ren) the reasons behind their names. It is, afterall, a gift of a lifetime.

“My dearest Ryan (EC),

 In honour of Namesake Day (March 6th), I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you the reasons behind your name and why your Dad and I chose to name you Ryan William Alphonse.

~ Ryan ~

Namesake Day 004

Ryan at 3 months

When I found out that I was expecting my first child, I knew immediately that I wanted to give him/her an Irish name. I have always been so proud of my O’Reilly surname and of my affinity to all things Irish; it seemed only natural to pass that on to my child. I had decided that if I had a son, I wanted to name him Ryan and, if I had a girl, I wanted to name her Cailin. I had always liked the names Ryan (meaning ‘little prince’) and Cailin (meaning an Irish ‘Colleen’). I loved how both names sounded and I felt that both names went very nicely with the surname Bradley. Thankfully, your Dad liked both names so we knew from the beginning what our first child’s first name would be.

~ William ~

Your Dad was beyond thrilled when you were born; he was so excited to have a son!Namesake Day 008

When I was almost out of my first trimester, I had a routine ultrasound. Little did I know how the results of that ultrasound would change our lives so quickly. Dr. Cross, our family doctor at the time, phoned to tell me that an ovarian cyst (the size of a grapefruit) had been found on my right ovary. He explained that if the cyst was to rupture, I would more than likely miscarry. He advised me to go directly to the Almonte General Hospital for a consult with an obstetrician. I was told to take an overnight bag with me because I would more than likely be admitted for an emergency surgery which I did end up having.

Thankfully, the surgery was a success and you were saved. After my recovery, the obstetrician told us that we had better be prepared ‘to love one child’ because it had been a miracle that I had gotten pregnant in the first place given that both ovaries and fallopian tubes were badly damaged. To say that your Dad and I were blessed with loving three miracle sons is an understatement. There are not enough words to describe the joy and gratitude we felt with each of your births.

Namesake Day 002

Liam (YC), Dylan (MC), Ryan (EC)

That’s when I knew that if I had a son, his middle name would be William after his father and, if I had a daughter, her middle name would be Anne, just like mine and Granny O’Reilly’s. If I was to have only one child, I wanted that child to have a special name connection to either his/her parent.

~ Alphonse ~

Namesake Day 007

Alphonse John Holly

While I realize that Alphonse is an incredibly old name and that as a third name it seems somewhat stuffy and perhaps even royal, it is a name that is very near and dear to my heart. As you know, my grandfather Holly’s first name was Alphonse. He was such a kind, gentle and loving man who had sparkling eyes, a shy smile and strawberry blonde hair. He loved his family dearly and, especially, the love he showered his grandchildren with was immeasurable.

Grandpa Holly was more of a father to me than my own father. While my dad was not around very much due to his paranoid schizophrenia, my grandpa was the one constant in my life that I could count on unconditionally. Being with him made me feel safe for I knew that his temperament was even and always kind. Every chance I got, I stayed with him on his and Grandma Holly’s farm in Cormac. It was there that I learned so many life lessons; I learned

Namesake Day 005

Grandpa and Me

about the importance of the seasons, how to be kind and respectful of animals, how to be patient with others, how the rewards of hard work are immense, and what it truly means to be compassionate. My memories of my time spent with him and on the farm are among my favourites.

Grandpa Holly was beyond excited when he heard that I was expecting. I, in turn, could not wait to share your life with him. I had no problem imagining you toddling along beside him. Sadly, that was not to be.

Weeks before you were born, Grandpa was admitted to the Ottawa Civic Hospital for a stomach aneurysm. He needed emergency surgery to keep the aneurysm from rupturing, a life threatening situation. Unfortunately, the surgery did not go well and he was transferred to the intensive care unit afterwards.  He stayed there until he passed on to his next life. He was only 72 years old when he died.

In an attempt to give my grandfather a reason to fight and to make him feel better, Grandma Holly told him that if I had a boy, I would be naming him Alphonse. Knowing how guarded my grandmother was, this was an incredible display of emotion and kindness. Although he could not speak at the time, he nodded his head ‘yes’ to let her know that he understood.

Grandpa lived long enough to hear that you were born. When he was told that I had had a son, he smiled, one of the few smiles he was able to give during his six week stay in the intensive care unit. He died six days after you were born. It was an incredibly bittersweet time in my life. On one hand, I was overjoyed by your birth, yet, I was incredibly sad to have lost such an influential and loving man in my life. When Grandma Holly first held you she said, “When one door closes, another one opens. We may have lost Fronse (her nickname for him) but we gained Ryan.”

Not often had I ever heard Grandma Holly express her true feelings in such a positive light; those words are forever etched on my heart. And she was right. While I did lose a beloved man at that time, I gained a heaven sent son who reminds me of what a blessing it is to be his mother. It is my hope that someday you will come to embrace your third name as not only a part of your heritage but as a connection to a man that I am incredibly proud to have had in my life just as I am incredibly proud to have you in my life. If ever you need a reminder from where it is you come from, just look in the mirror. Your red beard, sparkling eyes, and gentle mannerisms prove that you are a direct descendant of that sweet, kind, gentle strawberry blonde haired man.

Namesake Day 001

All my love, Mom xoxo