A Year of Thanks

1 post a day for 365 days showing gratitude

momorial day cows May 31, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 5:24 pm

First off, I am thankful for all the men and women who have served our country throughout the centuries to guarantee America’s safety. Though I do not agree with many of the wars we have been a part of, I always support the troops, those who do things I would never–in a million years–even consider doing to protect and serve citizens they don’t even know. They are so honorable.

Second, I am thankful that I had a day off. This weekend has just been luxurious, and having an entire day to spend with my kids, working in the yard, playing, and cooking has been incredible. It’s just making me wish summer was here tomorrow! I am so impatient.

Thirdly, I am super thankful that my sister finally came out and hiked with me and the kids.

For the past 2 years, I have invited my sister and her family to come hike with me and my kids EVERY time we go.

They always decline.

Jon, my sister’s husband, even told me last night that he “hates nature.”


Who hates nature? Who doesn’t like a hike?

So, it was to my complete surprise that my sister told me this morning that she was joining us and bringing her son, Braden, and her girlfriend, Kathey, and Kathey’s daughter, Riley.

It was much cooler today than yesterday, which made the entire start of the hike so much better. Luke, however, exhausted from all the activities yesterday, instantly wanted me to carry him, much to the dismay of my shoulders:

And what made the hike even better–and I was especially glad this happened when Braden & Riley were there–was that cows were on the trail:

They were so close I didn’t even have to use the zoom function on my camera to take these pictures:

The kids didn’t complain at all about walking (and neither did their parents):

And the kids even stopped to examine the creek (Braden did bring his bug catcher after all):

And Luke got more and more sleepy on my back:

And everyone finished happy and fulfilled (though Braden did get carried the last few hundred feet):

Braden even said that he’d like to do it again. I’m hoping that every Sunday, my sister will call and say, “Hey, when are you guys leaving? We CAN’T WAIT to join you!”

I’m hoping, but not holding my breath. But for now, I’m just extremely thankful that we all go a chance to hike, explore, and enjoy nature (take that Jon!) together.


strawberry kisses May 30, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 9:52 pm

Today was a blissful day filled with friends, family, and strawberries.

We started the morning off early going for another Sunday hike. Again, beautiful:

But it was hot. Really hot. Like 85 degrees hot. At 8:30 in the morning.

This may not seem hot to someone in say, Texas, but considering the weather here has been a consistent 60-68 degrees, it was a shock to my system. And Luke barely walked any of the 3 miles himself, so I carried him on my back most of the way. And I was sweaty, really sweaty. And Maddie was complaining. And about 15 minutes in, I actually thought about turning around. But I persevered and made up keep going. I was a borderline drill sargent. We were slow, sweaty, and my back was sore, but it was worth it. We felt so accomplished. It was a great way to start our morning.

We then came home, changed, and headed a few towns south for the annual Strawberry Festival. We met my sister and her family and my best friend and her family, and we all headed out to walk around.

The streets were packed:

The kiddie rides were plentiful:

Maddie and Luke reached great heights in the bounce house:

And had fun people watching:

Then we all walked back to my parents’ house and crossed the old, rickety bridge that the kids love so much:

And then BBQ’d steaks for lunch and had the most fun swimming in a cheap plastic pool:

I love that Luke’s wearing Cate’s pink swimming diaper. I love that he’s yet to care about gender expectations!

It was so great to see my best friend Denise and her family. She only lives about 30 minutes north of me and–get this–she works as a budget analyst at the university I teach at and we still NEVER see each other. Her and her husband have 5 kids so their lives are hectic–to say the least! It was nice to see her, hug her, and hear all that’s going on in her life.

And strawberries! Despite the whole festival dedicated to strawberries, we didn’t eat even one. Amazing. This has never happened before in our history of going to the Strawberry Festival.

But it was just too hot. So instead of eating strawberry funnel cake or strawberry shortcake, we had strawberry flavored snow cones, which were soooooooo refreshing. I didn’t even take a picture of me and the kids eating them because I was too busy enjoying mine.

And then Luke kissed me and left strawberry flavored drool all over my face. Love, really, I wasn’t even bothered or grossed out because I was having such a great day.

But the day wasn’t over, as my sister watched my kids for about an hour and a half, so I could run over to have dinner with my friend Jenny and some other friends. It was Jenny’s 35th birthday, and since she’s 6 months pregnant, has twin 2 year olds at home, and still works, she deserved an awesome day. Which she had. While I only joined her and the girls for dinner, they had started at noon, having lunch, wine tasting, hot tubbing, getting massages, and generally just having a wonderful time.

Dinner was wonderful, of course, but seeing Jenny so happy and relaxed and seeing other good friends that I NEVER get to see was a fantastic way to end my night.

As I drove home with the kids, I thought how lucky I am to have had such a wonderful day, such a wonderful life. I feel blessed, content, thankful, and loving those strawberry kisses.


corralling chickens May 29, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 6:41 pm

Whoever said chickens were dumb farm animals was wrong. Or have not met my chickens.

My chickens live on the side of my house where an old dog run used to be. So, now, we call it the chicken run. On one side of the chicken run is my house; on the other is a 4 foot fence.

I had–erroneously–thought that the chickens would be unable to get over the gate.

Wrong. Ever heard the saying “fly the coop?”

Yup, my chickens can fly (as can all chickens, actually), and so they flew over the gate and into the neighbors’ yards. Not only the yard, but pretty much all over the neighborhood. I’ve chased my chickens down the road on numerous occasions, and it’s not fun. It’s also not fun having people stare at you as you pass by houses carrying a chicken (or two) under your arm.

But the solution to their flying was simple: trim their wings.

Which I did. But I didn’t trim enough, so off they flew again.

I trimmed them again. I threw them in the air. No flying anymore.

Two days later, though, they were gone again. I went out to investigate and found a hole in the fence, leading straight into the neighbor’s yard. I mended the hole.

This was beginning to feel too 18th century for me.

Within days they had disappeared again.

I began to get super pissed. Not only were they leaving for the day (they always come back at night hence the saying, “home to roost.”), but they were laying eggs elsewhere too.

And I know this is just some primary animal instinct they have to save their young from being taken by me, though they haven’t seemed to figure out that their eggs are unfertilized, but still…I feel for them. If someone kept taking my eggs, I’d move to.

But still, it was pissing me off.

So I went to Home Depot and purchased a 6 foot reed fence. Then I spent all day with Maddie and Luke putting it up all along the neighbor-side of the chicken run.


So far the chickens are still on the side of the house. I really don’t know how they can escape, but I’m not discounting anything. So after this whole day working and sweating, I’m thankful I’ve corralled the chickens.

I think I’d have done well living in the 18th century.


moving on up May 28, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 6:38 pm

Today was Maddie’s last day of school. I wish I felt remorse for the school year having gone by so quickly, but mostly, I’m just thankful it’s over. This has been a year filled with project after project after project. I’m exhausted and I haven’t even been the one in school. Maddie, however, did fantastic. She ended this trimester with all A’s and A-‘s and 2 B+’s. This is amazing not just because she’s brilliant (in my eyes), but because the school grades on a different scale than most. An A, for example, is a 97%-100%, an A- is a 94%-96%, and a B+ is a 90%-93%. So technically, she did receive all A’s!

But today, the last day, her school always does something magical.

They have a moving on up ceremony.

Basically, every class lines up on their designated areas on the playground. Then the song, “This Little Light of Mine,” plays in the background (and all the parents and kids sing along):

While we sing, one by one each group of kids moves to the next grade’s designated line, from first grade to eighth grade (Maddie’s school goes from 1st-8th grade and each grade only has one class). So, the 5th graders moved up to the 6th grade line, and they all high-five their new teacher.

What makes this extra special is that the first graders, who have come from the preschool through kindergarten campus across town, hide in a classroom, until the principal asks everyone to welcome the newest members of the campus. Then out comes the littlest, shyest kids from around the corner to assume their position on the playground. And while most of the kids are dressed in free-dress, the new first graders usually wear their uniforms because they are excited to have the opportunity to be wearing one (this wears off quickly in my experience).

It’s hard to believe that Maddie was once that little first grader coming onto the big campus. Time really does go by too quickly.

Today, my sister and Cate joined us to celebrate Maddie moving on up.

You can see how excited Luke and Cate were to get into school:

Watching them so excited to go to school made me realize how very quickly they too will be in school.

And then Luke and Cate used the water fountain for the first time:

They were really amazed at the concept of water coming out of a spout when they pushed the button. I tried not to throw up and freak out when Luke practically french kissed the spout:

After all, I grew up during a time when we all drank from water fountains–you know, the time before plastic water bottles and the super expensive Swiss made aluminum reusable bottles that Maddie and all her friends have now. And I never got ill from a water fountain.

And then the grand finale, Maddie and her class moved up to the 6th grade line and met their new teacher:

I swear, ever year my sister and I get so emotional and cry. We just cannot believe how big Maddie is getting!

SLOW DOWN TIME, I want to scream.

But despite all of this–the emotions, the excitement, the amazing ceremony–summer is here for Maddie and almost for me. It’ll be our time to slow down and watch our plants, the grass, and each other grow.

I’m thankful for that.

And I’m also thankful that this little light of mine (Maddie), I’m gonna let her shine!


rainbows May 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 9:10 pm

The weather was odd today–humid, chilly at times, clouds overhead, and a report of possible rain showers later in the day. This weather prediction mirrored my mood today.

I felt warm and then cool, not quite timing wearing my jacket correctly. Somewhere about mid-day, I realized that I incorrectly assumed my grades for the community college were due tomorrow at 4p.m., when in actuality they are due tomorrow at 1p.m. This meant I had to rearrange my grading schedule to accommodate for those lost hours, making me feel rushed and a bit stressed. It was like a rain cloud was right over my head.

When I got home from school, Luke was cranky and clingy, and that’s when it started to rain outside. As we ate dinner and the kids took a bath, I sat down to grade a stack of 10 page research papers. Kill me now, I thought (dramatic, I know).

But then the essays were surprisingly easy to read, well, most that is. And then Maddie looked out the window and screamed, “Mom! A Rainbow!”

So I grabbed Luke and we rushed to the window where we saw a FULL rainbow! It was still raining, but the sun peaked out in a few places, and a beautiful rainbow shined across the sky. I know it’s hard to see in this picture, but trust me, it was vibrant.

I was thankful and I felt my mood lift as we watched the rain and rainbow for about a half an hour. Luke loves watching the rain, and I love watching him in wonder to where the rain comes from.

And I finished all I had to tonight. I only have about an hour and a half left of work to finish tomorrow and then grades will be in! Rainbows, indeed.


cookies May 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 8:43 pm

This evening, Maddie needed something to do. With school coming to a close, there is littleĀ  homework, and she’s bored. She’s dancing, singing, talking non-stop, jumping, slamming doors, the list could continue for pages. Seriously, this girl could talk to a door. No seriously, she’s staring at herself in the oven door reflection talking to herself right now.

She’s making me batty. I have so much grading to get done in the next few days, and with all her energy surrounding me, I can’t concentrate. I’ve suggested reading a book, playing outside (she did do that for about an hour though), meditating, crocheting, pretending to be a mime in her room, anything to keep her occupied and out of my hair. It’s not working. It’s like I’m a magnet and she’s drawn to me..I cannot get in 10 minutes of work without her interrupting me.

Finally, I actually looked her in the eyes today and said, “Maddie. PLEASE. SHUT. UP.”

Now I usually don’t tell me kid to shut up, but I couldn’t take it anymore. But when that didn’t work, I told her to go make some cookies.

Which she did. For about 45 minutesĀ  she measured, stirred, heated, baked, and stayed in the kitchen. While she was still noisy, banging things around, she was successfully out of my space and I actually finished some work.

And now we have cookies:

To be honest, they’re not that good. I’m not sure what she did wrong (she swears she didn’t deviate from the recipe at all), but something is seriously amiss.

Oh well. The good news is that she’ll have cookies in her lunch tomorrow, cookies that she’ll be damn proud of because she made them. The better news is that I had 45 minutes of Maddie free chatter.

Tonight I’m thankful for cookies.


holy shit! May 25, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 9:27 pm

The title to this post says it all. I’m in shock…literal shock.

I just finished grading one of the classes from the community college–the remedial writing course.

I have to admit, I dreaded going to this class before it started. The entire duration of winter break, I bemoaned this class, I lamented in my poor luck, I cursed the way classes are assigned.

Partly this was because of the time slot, but mostly this was because of the type of student who generally take this evening remedial course. I’ve taught this course at this time slow before and have had nightmares about the students throughout the entire semester and even for a while after the class ended. But as seen in my post here, I learned early on that these student were different…and special.

So while I lost a few students throughout the semester (the class started small to begin with), I ended the course with only 12 students. But like I said in my past post, these students tried so hard and in the end, really kicked ass!

So, while I did have to give out 4 F’s to students who stopped coming (months ago), the rest of the class received:

2 As

5 A-s

2 Bs

1 B-

1 C+

1 C


First of all, over half the class received an A or A-

Second, the students who stayed throughout the semester all passed the class.


Fourth, I’m a tough instructor and grader, and so all these students deserved these grades–there is absolutely no fluffing, padding, or sympathy grades, EVER.

So tonight I’m so incredibly thankful–again–for this class.I can’t wait until they see their grades…they will be so pleased and proud!!!

I’m just beaming right now. I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud of a class before.

Yay students!!! I hope they all go very far in life. It’ll be a pleasure to watch what they can accomplish.