A Year of Thanks

1 post a day for 365 days showing gratitude

So, yeah, I’ve been pretty busy March 23, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 9:21 am

It’s the end of the university quarter and my work has been piling up. I wish I could say that I was on some exotic vacation or had been seeing lots of live music, but sadly, most of my time has been devoted to grading and parenting.

So, once again, instead of knocking out my gratitude day by day, I’m just going to do categories.

  1. Maddie turned 18

I don’t even know how this happened. Everything went so fast. I remember thinking when she was maybe 3 or 4 that I couldn’t wait until she’d be able to take care of herself, and MY GOD, that’s happened in the blink of an eye.Just for giggles, I found some old pictures of me and Maddie when she was younger as I was looking for photos for her senior yearbook, and I just have to share, because how was I ever that young and how was Maddie ever that tiny?.

The first picture is with my best friend’s daughter Corinne who is now 25 years old! That’s just crazy. Looking at these old pictures made me so nostalgic for those simpler days–one kid, young and hopeful, happy with starting my career. Not to say that I’m old and hateful now, just a tad bit less hopeful and yes, older.

But anyway, Maddie has made it to 18 without getting pregnant, running away, being hooked on heroin, or being sent to jail. She’s even going to a top college in the fall. I feel like my work is done.

maddie bday

Newborn to 18 year old

Ha! If only that were true because it seems the real hard work starts now. Parenting takes on a whole new definition now. I have to let Maddie go and find her own ways through life and stay far, far back on the sidelines, watching–not even really coaching anymore. And that’s kind of tough for me. I want to jump in everyday and say things like “too much make-up!” or “find a new boyfriend!” or “did you seriously get your belly button pierced???” But I don’t. I hold my tongue, stand in the corner, and cheer her on despite any reservations I might have. Of course she still needs me, but it’s definitely on a more limited basis. And that’s okay. She’s a great young adult and I’m excited to see her future unfold.

For her birthday, we went to our usual sushi restaurant (our 18th year there for Maddie’s birthday) and then went back to my parent’s house for cake. Her present from me was supposed to be a weekend in Big Sur with her friends (and me), but Big Sur is blocked off from the north and south due to the storms we’ve had, so that is on the back burner. And let me tell you: never have I needed/wanted to go to Big Sur so badly as I do lately and I can’t get there. It’s horrible.

2. I turned 41. Ugh. I decided to do something low key for my birthday, so I just invited some friends to go on a hike with me (we hiked the 41 in honor of turning 41) and Maddie and her friends came and Luke was there too, and it was easily a 5 mile hike and none of the kids complained. And when we got to the top, we had wine, and cheese, and bread, and lots of goodies. It was a great birthday!

My favorite gift came from my mom (no big surprise, I told her I wanted this) and it is THE BEST coffee table, pick-up-at-any-time-and-turn-to-a-page book ever:


3. Maddie’s dumb dog is finally getting trained. Every Thursday night, Maddie takes Oliver to dog training classes and it seems to be helping. I swear to God though that this dog is a crazed puppy and if he weren’t so damn cute, I’d have sent him packing months ago.

dog training

4. Luke had his very first play date with a friend–his best friend Violet–at our house and I was happier than I think he was. Because Luke has ADHD, it’s been really difficult for him to make friends, but this year, he’s blossomed and has a best friend! And Violet is great. I loved having her at the house and watching Luke and her play.

5. What’s the one thing I do not need more of, but will always buy? That’s right. Books. And the friends of the library were having a book sale and I went and got all these books for $9 (they literally measure your stack and it’s $1 per inch):


6. I had my book club and that was super fun.

book club

7. I got to take a few hours to myself and go see my lovely friend Leslie read some poems and then watch other talented poets and end the evening with a book reading (yes, I bought the book).


8. On a more serious note, I participated in a Day without Women, which was a tough decision for me to make, but I’m glad I did.

day without women

What I wrote to all my students:

day without women

Well, I think that about wraps it up for what I’ve been grateful for. I’m going to try to get back to writing once a day as it’s so much easier than letting everything pile up (kind of like laundry), but I will not stop! I will continue to be grateful for everything I have, including the 75 essays I’m about to go grade. Just kidding. I’m not thankful for those at all.


a small miracle happened today March 1, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 11:57 am

As I think I wrote previously, I was reviewed this year at the university I work for, and I truly did not give much thought to it. I hastily put together my binder and decided that since the university wouldn’t fire me nor was I going to be promoted for any reason (we can’t actually even get promoted), I was going to give zero fucks about this review.

And surprisingly, I got a raving review from the tenured professor who watched my class and went through my binder, and even more miraculously, I got a raving review from my boss, who has NEVER given me a raving review before in 12 years of teaching.

Something must be wrong with the universe because this is not how things usually go, but for today, I’ll take it and be incredibly grateful.


yesterday was the worst day of the year and i’m bitter

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 11:53 am

So, I’m trying to find gratitude wherever it may come, but yesterday proved difficult.

To start, I woke up and switched on my computer to do work just to see it had crashed. No problem, it’s a new computer (under a year), so i took it to the trusty tech guys I always use, and after looking at it, they called me to say the entire motherboard had crashed. Which means, good-bye computer. Thus, I had to buy a new computer yesterday with money I don’t really have, but the thing is, I need a computer because of how much work I do at home. I can’t always come to the university to do work. And with a looming 75 essays to grade, I needed a new computer pronto!

Then I had taken the day off school to drive down to Santa Barbara to fight a speeding ticket I received in which I WAS NOT SPEEDING. But I was prepared. My father gave me questions to ask, and when my time came I was fully prepared. I questioned the officer and many times he could only say, “I don’t know.” But I still was found GUILTY. I learned, as I sat and watched other traffic offenders defend their cases, that although the judge was nice and humorous, he was always going to side with the officer. This was not “innocent until found guilty.” This was “guilty because I trust the office more than any human.”

I was furious.

But then I received this message from a former student and it did brighten my day:note


And by the time I got home from Santa Barbara, my brother had made dinner for me and the kids, which was also so kind.


Despite the gratitude I felt, however, I was overcome with a sense of hopelessness and pretty much cried myself to sleep last night. But I did wake up and decide not to let what happened yesterday affect me today (so far this isn’t going so well, though).


ohhhh, all the catching up to do February 27, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 3:20 pm

So I don’t know about you, but life has been super busy for me, so instead of doing a day by day gratitude blog, I’m going to just post categories of gratefulness that has happened in the past week.


Maddie got into the same university that I teach at! As much as I wanted her to move away from our small town, I didn’t realize how much I actually wanted/needed her to stay until she got accepted. And she is beyond thrilled!!!!


Family came in from Minnesota that I haven’t seen in forever, but we had a great time.



As much as I love the rain, I’m so glad to have a reprieve. The hills are so green and the creeks are flowing. I need this sunshine. Just walking around campus with the sun shining has made me feel better.


I’ve read some pretty funny memes this week that I just can’t help but share because they make me laugh so hard.


I had coffee with my best friend, Rich, whom I haven’t seen in forever, and he brightened up my day as always.



I made my friend Andy and his partner, Rob, dinner that turned into a small dance party.


I had a kick ass house show this past Saturday and managed to fill my tiny house with 43 people. The band that played was Matt Pond, PA and even though I didn’t really get to enjoy the music as much because I was the host and off helping people, I’m so glad I held this event.


And in case you’re interested in his music, here’s a live performance of him from a few years ago. Now imagine that energy in my tiny house. It was lovely:


Finally, I saw this meme and just thought YES! YES! YES! This sums me up so much right now:




family day wednesday February 16, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 1:53 pm

On Wednesday, I got home from work and had dinner with the kids. It’s so rare for us to all be together these days, so it was nice to catch up. Then I even had time to sit down with Luke while he went through every single Valentine he got and told me about who gave it to him. It was adorable. He was genuinely excited that he got Valentines:)

Also, my brother moved in with me last night, so that’s cool. I think. No, I’m pretty sure it’ll work out just fine. And it’s not permanent, although I have no idea how long he plans on staying.


It’s been a glorious few days February 14, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 9:37 am

So yeah, I’m catching up again, but oh well….


The day just started off great as I had a meeting with the faculty member who evaluated me and other than a few questions she had for me (which makes sense considering she dropped in for a 1 hour class and didn’t really have the structure of the class down), she praised my class, my student engagement, and my dedication to teaching and service to the university (which I did politely tell her I would no longer be doing).

Then I found this beauty of an image and just thought SO SO SO TRUE!!! And props to Senator Warren for inspiring this. she-persisted

Maddie texted me her last senior pictures and MY GOD, she is beautiful! I think I’ll keep her:)

Then I ended my long work day by meeting my friend Kelly for wine and catching up on our friendship:


All around, Thursday was a fantastic day!!!



Friday is always a good day when I get Luke, so that made me super happy. But it’s also my day off, and while I usually have a bunch of grading to do, I spent most of the morning/early afternoon drinking tea and reading:


Then as a family outing that evening me, Maddie, Luke, and Maddie’s friends all went to  her boyfriend’s (high school) basketball game:


I know! Hard to believe, but Maddie actually hung out with us!!!!



Saturday was a BIG day because I took Luke to the Planned Parenthood demonstrations in our town. Just in case you’re not in the know: Anti-Planned Parenthood groups decided that on Feb 11th they would–nationally–demonstrate against Planned Parenthood. As a response–nationally–Planned Parenthood responded with a Pro Planned Parenthood demonstration on the same day.

But the rules were firm. If you were protesting to keep funding Planned Parenthood then all protesters were to remain silent out of respect to the other side. And we were to keep it peaceful. I decided this was a perfect opportunity to take Luke to a peaceful protest (we kind of discussed what PP is, using more words like cancer screening and checking blood pressure then birth control)  because he’s been quite interested in MLK day and “peaceful protests” in general. So in my town what it looked like was one side of the street demonstrated against funding planned parenthood under the umbrella of religion and also holding up those horrible, blown-up signs of abortions, of which all are 3rd trimester abortions that ARE ILLEGAL IN EVERY STATE ANYWAY (unless the mother’s life is in danger). On our side, it was just a bunch of women, men, and kids, holding signs that ranged from “Don’t de-fund Planned Parenthood” to “I can’t believe I still have to protest this shit..”


It would have been a perfect event except for one obnoxious man, carrying a horrible picture around and yelling at everyone on our side. Our side stayed silent (I seriously don’t know how people kept their composure because I wanted to throat chop him), but it did; however, Luke and I to leave earlier than planned as it was just really disruptive. I’m still thankful we went out and showed our love for Planned Parenthood. I truly am grateful for them as they provided me with free healthcare when I was young and poor (haha. now I’m just old and poor. But with good insurance)



All I have to say is I finally weeded the front yard. My whole body aches from so much time spent in the yard, and even though it’s going to rain again in a few days, it seriously needed to be done. I’m so thankful it’s over (for now):



Monday was such a busy day, and Luke and Maddie didn’t have school but I did, so I have to give mad props to Maddie for watching Luke while I was working. What am I going to do without her next year??? I’m so thankful for her.

But as soon as I got off work, I picked up Luke and headed to my friend Natalia’s house for a friend dinner called, “I love you every day.” It was so great to see friends and eat some amazing food!


And my friend Cyndi gave me these amazing Valentine’s Day cards. I just love them so much!




It’s Valentine’s day and even though I usually deplore this holiday as just another way for consumers to spend money they don’t have, I am embracing it this year. I bought Luke a cute stuffed animal that he loved and I bought candy for all my students. Today I’m going to choose to be positive rather than negative. I’m just so thankful for all the love I have in my life right now.



Some time with Maddie February 9, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 12:10 pm

Basically if I want to see Maddie lately, I have to ask for an appointment about 1 week in advance. But last night, Wednesday, we finally had a dinner date. I got home from work and we ate dinner together for the first time in what seems like forever. Then we talked about life before we got down the nitty gritty of what Maddie wanted to discuss: her 18th birthday and her high school graduation.

I took notes and we made a plan, so I’m glad we got through that. And surprisingly, she didn’t really say she wanted anything for her birthday except maybe money because she’d like to go on a trip with some friends this summer. I offered that–if I could afford it–would she want to bring 4 friends to Big Sur for a weekend and I can bring one friend and we’ll celebrate our birthdays kind of together like we did last year. She really liked that idea, so I’m going to try my hardest.

We also discussed that just because she turns 18, she still has to follow the house rules. She was totally fine with that, but did ask, “when I turn 18 can I get a cartilage earring?” to which I said, “of course.” I mean, I already let her get her nose pierced and she has a small tattoo on her finger (given to her by a friend at school with a poke and ink set while–just to set the record straight–my parents were watching her because I was in Ireland), but for some reason, I’ve put my foot down on anymore earrings, even though I have a cartilage earring and have since I was 18. Sometimes I think I just make up rules as I go on this parenting path.

Finally, she gave me list of things I need to do: I have to finish paying for her senior portraits,  I have to do my taxes and complete Maddie’s FASFA in the next few days. God, it seems like the work it takes to get Maddie into college is never ending.

We also had a date to watch a movie in her room, but she said, “Mom, I have to watch The Bachelor tonight, so I can’t do the movie. Do you want to watch The Bachelor with me?” she asked. Ummm, I’d rather poke holes in my eyes. But even though the night wasn’t a complete date, I’m still thankful of the time I spent with Maddie.