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








the quirky holiday calendar

Every Christmas for the past ten years, I have given EC a calendar as part of his Christmas present. On each calendar I had written the Cabbage Patch family’s important dates such as birthdays and anniversaries so that EC would always have a heads up for what was Weather Trivia 2coming next in the family celebrations. In the beginning, the calendars were scenic and rather tame; they featured landscapes and nature scenes (sort of gives you that butterflies and rainbows feeling, doesn’t it?) and only included family dates. Recently, I asked EC if he could remember what some of the previous calendars featured. He replied, “That was when you still had some sanity so it’s harder to remember the pretty ones”. When I still had some sanity? What the hell was that supposed to mean?

Mario CalendarAt some point, I turned into a calendar maniac. I went from writing in our important family dates to making social commentaries about certain holidays that were already marked on the calendar. I also switched up from the butterflies and rainbow calendars to calendars geared more the EC’s interests: Zelda, Star Wars, Angry Birds, and Super Mario for example. These calendars were just begging for more than birthdates to be written on them and I was just the woman to do it.

My mania began simple enough. I started by writing in some thoughts and/or suggestions about how EC could celebrate other holidays throughout the year. Sometimes I included trivia questions and other times I would include pop culture references. Here are a few examples:

  • Christopher Columbus Day – “Be like Christopher Columbus and discover something new today.”
  • Feast of the Epiphany – “Contemplate your life and have your own epiphany.”
  • Groundhog Day – “How many times was Bill Murray bitten by a groundhog while filming Groundhog Day?” (The answer is twice.)
  • April Fool’s Day – “I hate to tell you but you were adopted.”
  • Mother’s Day – “Phone your mother and tell her how she is the BEST mother in the whole wide world.”
  • On my 50th birthday – “Tell your mother how marvellous she looks for 50.”
  • Assumption – “Never assume anything. It’s safer that way.”
  • Taylor Swift’s birthday – “Shake it off, Taylor. You’re only 26. Lots of time to find your soul mate.”
  • Quite often I suggested he Google certain holidays such as Yom Kippur, Chinese New Year, Ramadan, and so on. Whether he did or not, I am not sure but I do know him well enough that if the comment or suggestion was witty, sarcastic or interesting enough, he would.

Here is a photo of my “creative genius” as EC calls it:

“Look at my mom’s creative genius on my calendar for the month of August. It’s a slow month for my family.” ~ EC

Over the years, EC has referred to a couple of my calendars as ‘loopy’. While the ‘loopiness’ is definitely a part of my personality, what he did not realize was that each year I was trying to top the previous year’s calendar. I was in competition with myself to make the new calendar the best one EVER. This called for some serious creativity, let me tell you. It wasn’t until I was preparing this year’s 2016 calendar that I realized that I could only be creative about the epiphany so many times. Somehow, I had to come up with something over the top if I was going to beat 2015’s.

I put my thinking hat on and thought that there must be other holidays celebrated throughout the year that do not make it on to the calendars that we purchase at say, Wal-Mart or Calendar Club. A quick Google search and, sure enough, there is an entire world out there of funny, eccentric, and quirky holidays. So……

Enter the Quirky Holiday Calendar. I decided that instead of writing my comments all over the calendar I would create quirky holiday bags that would include an explanation about the holiday as well a something creative to help celebrate the day. The bags would be mailed out to EC prior to the beginning of each month to be celebrated (holy smokes, the month goes by quickly).

Here are some pictures of the holiday bags’ preparation:


IMG_1735 (1)

Preparing the quirky holiday bags is similar to a scavenger hunt. First, I look for items around the house that will coincide with the holiday. Then, I head out to Value Village. Dollarama and The Bulk Barn to finish off the rest of the items I need for my bags. For example, Value Village is a great source for children’s books, mugs and toys. Bulk Barn is great for treats such a gummy teeth for Tooth Fairy Day while Dollarama is great for items such a rubber duck for Rubber Ducky Day and rubber snakes for Serpent’s Day.

Here are some examples of my creativity at work:

 IMG_1854 (1)Save a Spider Day

IMG_1882Road Kill for Buzzard’s Day

Sometimes all you need is a small baggie and a little imagination:

IMG_1647National Create a Vacuum Day

Other times a photo will suffice:

IMG_1626 (1)

Spunky Old Broad’s Day

Here are some of EC’s texts and comments about The Quirky Holiday Calendar:

Drinking Straw Day

Cheese Day

Hug Day

Snake Day

Handcuff Day

The wonderful thing about the Quirky Holiday Calendar is not only the feeling that comes from being creative about the whole thing but it is the feeling that comes from doing something special for someone you love. When I was operating my business, I did not have time for the anything that involved a serious time commitment. It may appear that the monthly holiday bags are a lot of work but keep in mind that, while I could have stopped at including only one quirky holiday per bag, I did not; I went overboard (surprise, surprise). There are so many great holidays to choose from that I can never narrow it down to one. Plus it is just so much darn fun!

Whether you choose to send your loved one(s) a calendar that includes important birthdays and anniversaries or you choose to go all out with a quirky holiday calendar, the benefits are many. Not only does the creator of the calendar feel wonderful for doing something special for their loved one but the recipient feels that love each and every day when they check their calendar. Also, as I pointed out to EC, this world can be stressful and full of challenges but, if we stop for a minute and think about it, there is ALWAYS something to be celebrated and thankful for.

And it’s pretty darn good getting something in the mail other than bills 😉

Calendar maniac: 1

2017 calendar: 0 (for now)

the eyebrow pact

In the arrogance of my youth I made what I call ‘The Eyebrow Pact’ with my best friend Reba. By arrogance and youth, I mean in my twenties when I thought I knew everything and when all my body parts were where they were supposed to be, nothing was sagging,friends dont let friends draw on eyebrows dragging, drooping or sprouting indiscriminate hairs. It was also when I thought that I had forever before anything would begin to sag, drag, droop or sprout. The pact went something like this: if ever I thought about shaving my eyebrows off so that I could draw them back on with an eyebrow pencil, I was to tell Reba so that she would talk me out of it and vice versa. It was something we pinky-swore over which meant it was serious. I mean really serious. You don’t pinky-swear over some itty bitty little thing.

What were the reasons behind making ‘The Eyebrow Pact’ you wonder? Well, I descend from a long line of females who, at some point in their lives, decided to shave their eyebrows off and then draw them back on with an eyebrow pencil. When I was younger, I could not for the life of me figure out why they would do that. It was one thing to shave leg and arm pit hairs because any mistakes made there could be easily covered up with clothing. But eyebrows? What happens when you shave one off and then discover that it was a mistake? You are then committed to shaving the other oneeyebrows off in order to even things out. There is no way out of this and no way of covering up any mistakes with clothing.

And drawing them back on? I could not even begin to understand that. Where do you start? How do you make sure that the brows are even? How do you ensure that the pencil lines stay on all day? It just did not make sense to me.

In addition to thinking that I knew everything back then, I also thought that it would take forever before I was the age at which my relatives began shaving their eyebrows. Remember when we thought anyone over 40 was old? Well, here I am now at the tender age of 52 and things are sagging, dragging, drooping and sprouting indiscriminate hairs. With this age comes the realization that I knew absolutely nothing back then (the jury is still out on whether I know anything now); I was never invincible and, well, if I had known then what I know now, then I more than likely would never have made such a flippant pact with Reba. Hindsight is, as they say, 20/20.

77ab193ac1990752f4668dbf873adcf0I remember Reba and me engaging in animated discussions about women who shaved their eyebrows. Why do they do it? Is there a template they follow to draw them back on? Do they stick with one eyebrow pencil colour or do they change colours to reflect their moods? What if they’re happy but have drawn their eyebrows on in an angry arch? Do they wipe them off and try again or do they just leave them that way? What if they drew them on in an angry arch because they were angry at the time but now are happy? Do they run to the washroom and wipe them off and then draw them on in a happy curve? What is it that they don’t like about their eyebrows that drives them to shave them off in the first place? What purpose do eyebrows even serve? And so on.

Since then, I have shared my “Eyebrow Pact” with other friends along the way. Some wanted to join the pact, others just laughed at me thinking that it would never happen to them (Ha! I bet they are rethinking the pact now). Some, like my friend, Missy Doodles, also descended from a long line of eyebrow shavers and were terrified of following in their footsteps. Others, like Waltzing Matilda, just wanted to belong to a pact; it didn’t really matter what it was, she just wanted to belong. “Will there be monthly meetings?” she once asked. Another friend wanted to know what kind of safeguards would be set in place to stop someone from shaving off their eyebrows. “Do we have a sponsor we can call?” By the time we were all approaching our fifties, the pact was getting very serious.

This is not to say that I have anything against those who shave their eyebrows. As I get no hate here.jpgolder and wiser (hopefully, anyway), I am more of the thinking that ‘to each their own’ is how it should be for all of us. You want to shave your eyebrows off? Have at it. Just don’t expect me to follow suit. From what I can tell, the reasons are varied why some people shave their eyebrows. For some, it serves as a form of expression. For others, they get tired of plucking, tweezing, waxing, threading or whatever method they used to maintain their eyebrows and just say ‘to heck with it, I’m shaving these hateful jeezers off!” Some have over plucked and, ‘poof’, the eyebrows were gone before they knew what had happened. One person I knew preferred to have her eyebrows tattooed on for posterity while another person was just plain unhappy with what God gave her so she decide to start over for herself. And then there’s me.

I now fully and completely understand why some of the females in my family have shaved and continue to shave off their eyebrows. They were driven mad by the hormonal changes menopause threw at them and, in particular, the effects those changes had on their eyebrows.

Here are the changes that I have noticed to my hateful jeezers since menopause began laughing in my face:

  1. The eyebrow hairs are wiry and uncontrollable. How eyebrows suddenly have a mind of their own, I do not know. They are like strong-willed children who do what they want regardless of how many ‘time outs’ they have had.
  2. The hairs like to stand up on end. Nothing I do will make them lay back down with possibly the exception of glue, lots and lots of glue. Not that I would do it but one never knows what they would do in a moment of desperation. (Note to self: make sure never to have Krazy Glue at my disposal. That would be BAD.) Also, plucking the ‘stand at attention’ hair is not an option for I cannot afford to lose another hair. My eyebrows are both losing and growing hairs where they should not be doing so.
  3. The hairs are growing above, below, to the side of, and in between the natural eyebrows themselves. In short, they have gone rogue. How can eyebrow hairs be growing over by my temples or well above the brow itself? Are they unhappy with their present location and want to relocate?
  4. burt-unibrowWithout plucking the wayward hairs, I could easily grow a uni-brow. I kid you not. This is a true story.
  5. By the time I finish plucking, tweezing, fine tuning the second eyebrow, the first one has gotten out of control again. This is not an exaggeration. Come spend a week with me and I’ll show you.
  6. I can only see said wiry, stand up-ish, out of control, wayward, rogue hateful jeezers when using a magnifying mirror. Not only are my eyebrows betraying me, my eyes are too. No longer can I see anything up close without reading glasses or a magnifying mirror.

Here are the options I see before me:

  1. Avoid looking in the mirror. Extreme but perhaps necessary. I also wouldn’t notice the peach fuzz growing along my jaw line nor would I notice the princess glitter look of blonde hairs growing above my lip. I will not explore this menopausal facial hair realm right now as it will provide much fodder for another post.
  2. Avoid letting anyone within an eyebrow radius of my face. I may lose friends this way but it is a risk I would be willing to take. I could carry a ruler guide with me pointing out the correct distance a person must maintain from my eyebrows OR I could have my own eyebrow security team who would ensure that no one cross over the eyebrow radius. (Personal message me if you would like to apply for a position on my eyebrow security team. Keep in mind that the pay is poor [none] but you would be guaranteed to go on one hell of an adventure with me.)
  3. Enlist the help of someone younger and with better eyesight to do a weekly check and pluck. I had first thought I would get Sauerkraut to help me but I had forgotten that he is five years older than me and his eyes betrayed him way before mine did. He is of no help here. (Again, personal message me if you would like to apply as my eyebrow assistant keeping in mind the aforementioned statement about there being no pay but an incredible opportunity to have some fun.)
  4. Google hair removal options such as waxing, threading, laser, gel wand eyebrow shaper, natural homemade concoctions and whatever else is out there for removing rogue hairs. Who am I kidding? This is not going to happen; it’s just too much eyebrow-hacks-spoon-tips-trickreading about things that do not really interest me. I need someone to explain the options to me and outline the pros and cons of each option. (Hmmmmm, perhaps personal eyebrow assistant could research this for me??)
  5. Shave the jeezers off. While I believe the shaving part would be easy, it’s the drawing of the eyebrows back on that would be the challenge. Without a template to follow, I would be at a loss how to draw them back on. Add to that the odd MS hand tremor I take and, well, you get the picture. They wouldn’t be very pretty. Plus, I am fairly certain that I would forget that I had drawn them on and, at some point during the day, I would likely smudge the brow with my fingers leaving disjointed eyebrows, much like the lines on a highway signifying safe passing of another vehicle.

I don't draw them on clubSo what’s a girl to do? Well, honour The Eyebrow Pact, of course. Even though the pact was made flippantly some thirty years ago, I would never have made it then had I not held my eyebrows in the high esteem they deserve. Eyebrows have a serious function which is thought to prevent sweat, water and other debris from falling down into the eyes. If I were to shave them off, goodness knows what kind of stuff would be falling in my eyes. What if a bird was flying overhead and dropped a doodoo bomb onto my forehead and I only had a pencil line to stop it? There would be no stopping it, that’s what; the bomb doodoo would slide right down into my eyes which, as you can imagine, would be downright disgusting. The thought of that alone happening is deterrent enough for me.

I also believe that eyebrows are important for the sole purpose of communication and All at the same timefacial expression. A thin pencil line would not express the ‘evil eye’ that I like to utilize when I am trying to make a point. Imagine trying to express shock or surprise, anger or frustration, happiness or seduction, fear or confusion, boredom or intense focus, shame or disgust, contempt or embarrassment without natural eyebrows? It just would not be the same. And forget about trying to draw on those expressions with an eyebrow pencil; I am just not that talented.

For now, I think I’ll just be happy being me, rogue hairs and all. If you need me, though, I’ll be sitting in front of my magnified mirror every two weeks, plucking and tweezing those rogue hairs as well as educating my personal assistant in all aspects of “The Eyebrow Pact”.

Anyone else want in?

New stainless steel slant tweezers: 1

Urge to shave eyebrows: 0 (not yet anyway)

Never underestimate


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