A Year of Thanks

1 post a day for 365 days showing gratitude

cleaning house June 30, 2010

Filed under: noticing sweetness — courtsbrogno @ 7:05 pm

This week (and next week as well) has been devoted to cleaning house. Unpacking all the drawers, closets, cabinets, and even moving furniture to get out the old and make room for another year of throwing stuff in. All of this will, surely, be repeated next summer.

It’s both frustrating and exhilarating.

I have to wonder, while I do this, how so much stuff can get jam-packed into a closet or under a bed. But it feels so nice to have one room at a time clean, clean, clean.

Today, I did my room. And to be honest, this is probably the first time (and perhaps the last time for a long while) that my room has been this clean. Every–I repeat, EVERY–closet, drawer, desk, and underneath everything as well has been cleaned.

The closet is organized and clean:

(I realize, upon looking at this photo, that my closet may not seem clean and organized, but trust me, it most definitely is.)


The desk has been swept free of clutter and dusted:

(Actually, all that clutter has just been moved onto the dining room table to be sorted and stored tomorrow)


The entire room is practically sparkling with cleanliness:

(I even washed the duvet cover and fluffed the pillows!)

I honestly cannot wait to climb into bed tonight and read my book while Luke falls asleep next to me. I am so thankful for my clean, clean room.

Virginia Woolfe said, “It seems as if an age of genius must be succeeded by an age of endeavor; riot and extravagance by cleanliness and hard work.” I like this. It makes me feel like the 9 months behind me of teaching and working like crazy have been a whole lot of riot and a bit of extravagance. Now onto figure out my own genius and then to put that to some serious endeavors.

Hmmm…where to begin? I’ll probably just start with Maddie’s room tomorrow. Then onto figuring out the genius in me. Or maybe the next day.


weaned June 29, 2010

Filed under: kids — courtsbrogno @ 6:37 pm

Luke had been weaned for a little over a week now, and it’s been a heartbreakingly beautiful process.

I nursed Maddie for a whole year, and quit the day she turned 1. She was ready. I was ready. I fully intended to only nurse Luke for 1 year as well, but by the time his first birthday rolled around, he definitely wasn’t ready, nor was I. Luke just seemed so much more like a baby at 1 than Maddie did. He seemed to need so much more mama time that it’s hard to explain, except for other moms I know often said this was true of boys.

But Luke seemed to just want more and more of the bobo (as he called it), and by his second birthday, I was ready. He wasn’t ready at all, but I had a feeling that if I didn’t wean him soon, he’d be 5 years old and still breastfeeding.  But, I knew this was going to be a process and one that would take diligence on my part–diligence I just don’t have when I’m in the full swing of my teaching load.

Plus I’m kind of a breastfeeding monster–in that I truly don’t understand women who don’t do it and women who succumb to formula just because it’s easier. In my experience, NOTHING is easier than breastfeeding. It forces both mom and baby to do what’s natural and to relax. Neither of my kids have ever had formula, and I think that’s great. I think it’s great that even in my hectic life, I could take 5-30 minutes out of my day at a time to just sit back and look at my baby. I know that sounds cheesy, and maybe it is, but it’s the truth. But after 26 months of nursing, I knew we were both ready.

So last Monday, I just stopped. I didn’t even stop gradually like so many books recommend. I knew that would just drag out the inevitable. So Monday morning, when he asked for his bobo, I just calmly said, “The bobo’s went bye-bye.” I repeated this over and over throughout the day.

It was heartbreaking. That first day he just wandered around looking utterly lost and sad. I barely kept to my guns.

By Wednesday, it was a little better. Friday even better. And today’s the first day he hasn’t even asked. I feel like I just won some great battle.

Naptimes and bedtimes take longer, but the beauty is that I have the time to just lie down with him and read him a book and wait until he falls asleep. There’s nothing on my agenda except for this, so it’s been a pretty relaxed time for both of us.

And I honestly had this fear that Luke might not need me once he stopped nursing, like my role as mama bear was over. Nothing has been father from the truth. Luke snuggles up with me even more, and as an extra bonus, because I’m not constantly sitting down to nurse, I’m getting so much more done in a day. And it’s been such a beautiful process as I’ve watched Luke kind of grow up in this week, and now I look at him as such a big boy, which is odd since he hasn’t had a growth spurt or anything during this time. But he just looks and acts like a bigger boy.

I’m thankful I breastfed Luke as long as I did (and Maddie as well). I’m thankful I chose his pace rather than my own. I’m thankful that weaning wasn’t as terrible as I thought it might be. And I’m thankful that I’m done!


the fritz family June 28, 2010

Filed under: friends — courtsbrogno @ 8:35 pm

I hung out today with the family that I’ve been trying to get into for 16 years. It’s my best friend Denise’s family, whom I met when I was 18. And just immediately feel in love with all of them–her mom, her dad, her brothers, and her sisters. I even love all their husbands, wives, and kids now.

(Denise’s mom, Annette, in the middle; Jessica, the youngest, on the left; Denise in the middle; and Mark, her brother, on the right)

Denise lives about 30 minutes north of me as does her brother, Mark and his wife, my good friend Nicole, and since her mom and sister were in town, I didn’t even wait for an invitation to come and see them; I just invited myself and my kids up for the day.

There’s just something about this family that I have always loved. First, they’re just so COOL. And honest, funny, and caring. Denise’s mom, Annette, is the best grandma ever. Every time one of her kids has a baby, she rushes to them and stays to help for as long as they’ll have them. She then constantly makes trips to see her grandkids and helps in any way possible. Denise and Jessica had to actually force taking their babies from her this afternoon.

Her sister, Jessica, I remember as just a young teenager, but now she’s married with the cutest son ever (he smiled at me so much today). Denise is just my rock. The most sane person I know, one of the hardest working moms ever, and still super funny yet totally grounded. And Mark, her brother, is one of the kindest and modest men I’ve ever known. He held his nephew (Jessica’s baby) in total awe:

I honestly LOVE hanging out with them all. The women of this family are so strong, such matriarchs (the men are pretty great as well). We were missing 3 other brother and sisters (Yeah, Annette and her husband, Ray, had 6 kids) as well as their father, Ray, and multiple nieces and nephews, but I’m thankful I got to see some of the Fritz clan and look forward to inviting myself up the next time the whole family is in town.

Oh, how I wish they’d adopt me. I can’t marry in to the family, but I so long to be a part of them. Maybe a few more times of me scheming my way into their functions and they’ll take my pleas more seriously. Until then, my I’ll just have to keep pretending….


Ahhhhh June 27, 2010

Filed under: friends,Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 8:39 pm

This post is dedicated to my best friend, Ahhhhh. Or actually, Tasha, who goes by Ahhhhhh to Luke.

Tasha finally left today for bigger and better things in the Bay Area.

(Tasha packing her car)

(Maddie & Luke watching Tasha pack her car)

I am so sad.

Tasha’s lived with me twice now. Once for three months right before I got married. And this time for six months while she wrote and finished her MS thesis. The first time Tasha was my rock. She seriously sat on the couch with me for hours each day while I mourned my life, awaiting my nuptials (we watched A LOT of movies while we sat on the couch). This time, in a much less dramatic fashion, she just hung out with me, helped me with my kids, and can I even say it…became a pretty kick ass husband (without the sex obviously).

Because of Tasha, I now know exactly what I want in a man.

Someone fun:

(Tasha at Burning Man)

Someone who is funny:

Someone who likes to bake:

(Tasha’s kick-ass chocolate souffle)

Someone who loves nature:

(Tasha on a hike)

Someone who’s smart:

(A photo Tasha took while at a conference. Who else but a total geek would take this kind of picture?)

Someone who’s good with kids:

(Tasha with some kid; I think she was in Thailand)

Someone who never judges, never condescends. Someone who works on her flaws, dares to dream big, always looks for an adventure. Someone who is wise:

Today is a sad day, but it’s also a day that makes me realize how lucky I’ve been to live with Tasha. She’s lived on my couch for 6 months, awoken every morning to Luke playing and screaming, taken Maddie on some adventures, watched both my kids with extreme diligence, and made me some awesome dinners and desserts. She’s listened to me, loved me, and helped me when I’ve fallen so many times. I am so thankful for our friendship.

I doubt I’ll ever find a man as awesome as Tasha. However, when I do meet someone, he’ll have to be vetted by Tasha, and he’ll have to really like her (but not that much, cause there’s one more thing she does: attract men like I’ve almost never seen before [the only one who can beat her is my friend Kelly. Tasha would agree.]).

Maybe it’s her confidence:

Oh Ahhhhhh…we’re going to miss you soooooo much.


a little bit of this, a little bit of that June 26, 2010

Filed under: family fun — courtsbrogno @ 8:33 pm

Today was a beautiful summer day with little to do but hang with the kids and be thankful.

Thankful for Maddie hiking with me this morning.

Even though she walked so slowly that she was constantly behind me:

But she finally made it:

Thankful for having lunch with friends. After the hike, we went to a friend’s house and watched the game, and even though USA lost, we had a great time hollering at the TV, eating sandwiches, and celebrating in the US’s one goal. We’re all excited to now root for England, who plays tomorrow morning.

Thankful for Luke not having to get stitches. Luke fell and busted the inside of his upper lip open, and I have never seen so much blood pour out from someone’s mouth before. But Luke handles it like a champ and barely cried. In fact, he always falls and hurts himself, and so I’m thankful I have a pretty tough kid.

Thankful for hanging out with Tasha for our last night together before she moves tomorrow morning. We’re watching movies–romantic comedies cause that’s our thing. There’s no one I’d rather watch a romantic comedy with than Tasha and Maddie. We love them.

Most importantly, just thankful for a simplistic summer day.


courage June 25, 2010

Filed under: self-discovery,self-growth — courtsbrogno @ 10:02 pm

I was invited to a BBQ tonight in honor of Tasha leaving town tomorrow and as a housewarming for Brady, also the party thrower. Of course, I don’t really know Brady that well, but I said yes because Tasha would be there, and though I hate (hate, hate, hate) the fact that she’s moving (only because I’ll miss her so much; it is a good move for her), I knew I should go to the party to celebrate her. I was a little hesitant to RSVP, however, because I’d only really know Tasha, and I’m not very good around people I don’t know (as in, I get a bit shy).

Then the horror (the horror, the horror…oh, Conrad, I will never utter this phrase without thinking of you): Tasha got a job interview and wouldn’t be coming until much later.

Shit, I thought. If I flaked then I would be, well, a flake and no one likes a flake. But if I went, then I would know no one and it would be super awkward and I would be uncomfortable.

But I have an aunt who once told me that whenever I have a decision where one option may be out of my comfort zone, then I should pick the more difficult option in order to challenge myself and get over fears.

Good advice. I went.

I had nervous butterflies as I approached the door, but within minutes, I felt at ease. Yes, I didn’t know anyone (though one person looked familiar), but everyone was so incredibly nice and thoughtful. Maddie was with me and she wound up being the only kids there (even though it was a kid-friendly party), and everyone was so nice to her as well. We sat on the balcony, which overlooked the ocean, we got to know new people, we ate great food, and all around had a great time. By the time Tasha finally got there, we all seemed like long time friends.

I don’t know why I was so worried or why I always worry about events where I don’t know anyone, but it’s really kind of dumb since most people are kind and gregarious. I’m thankful that I had the courage to go against my initial fears and attend the party. We had fun. I wish I had photos to prove all my fun, but it would have probably come off as really strange if I’d just started taking pictures…

I did, however, take some photos of one of the most beautiful moons I’ve seen in a while and the gorgeous, dark sea. I’m pretty thankful for those as well.


eat, pray, love June 24, 2010

Filed under: books and reading,favorites,self-discovery — courtsbrogno @ 8:29 pm

A few weeks ago, I was talking with a friend about relationships and he chided me and said, “Why must you have a traditional relationship.”

“Because I was raised on Disney and by the Catholic church,” I responded (and I’m not sure which had more influence, though my guess would be Disney).

My answer was immediate and quite true. Which got me thinking. And chiding myself. And being embarrassed.

Then, about a week later, I read a friend’s blog post about how great she felt to be in her 40’s because in her 30s she often thought of “ways she is lame.” And I thought that was exactly how I’ve been feeling ever since I’ve been in my 30s. Lamenting over wrong decisions. Deploring my inhibitions, my anxieties, my insecurities.

This has got to stop, I realized. I don’t want a whole decade of my life to be devoted to “ways I am lame.”

So, I pulled out one of my favorite books, the books that makes me believe in love, and prayer, and God, and most importantly, myself and my ability to make my life what I want it to be.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love.

This book came into my life, first, when I probably needed it the most. I had heard of it from a few friends, but nothing more than it was an excellent “literature lite” (yeah, I spelled lite correctly and on purpose for the point of what kind of literature I’m talking about). So, after a pretty bad break up, I was in San Francisco at the Farmer’s Market, when I wandered away from my friends, walked down a bit, and saw a bookshop. Right in the front window was this book. And I just bought. I still don’t know why, but I did. I started reading it right then and there, and by the time my SF trip was over about 2 days later, I had finished. The book had given me the strength to feel more confident in my decision to end my very passionate yet broken relationship.

Fast forward a year later, and I’m married, pregnant, and miserable. Miserable. (I feel the need to say this twice to emphasize just how miserable I was. I’ll say it again in caps: MISERABLE). In the midst of all my life chaos I took the book down from the shelf and began reading it again, this time underlying important passages to me. Even though I had just read it a year ago, there was so much I had missed and the narrative spoke to me much more loudly than before. Between my therapist telling me to get out and this book, I divorced myself from this person, and then had a pretty difficult time rediscovering who I was.

Which brings me to this summer, as I have spent the past 3 years blaming myself, hiding from people I know, and generally reliving some pretty bad moments from my life. It’s like it took these years for me to see a pattern I had in life, especially with men, and a pattern that wasn’t good. And even though I was in no way depressed and was a fully functional, happy (how can you not be happy with two gorgeous children running around?), working woman, I wouldn’t say I was really living. Or forgiving. Because my life seemed to play out like a movie on replay in my mind. And only the bad parts. The parts where I’d hurt people, injured feelings, been too self-involved. And though I realize I’ve done a lot of good, it didn’t matter to my life movie. It was only the bad stuff.

Which is why I started this blog. And why, after thinking about how I wanted my 30s defined, I reread this book.

It came at a good time. And I think this is the type of book that has to come to you when you’re ready for it. I’ve given it to friends who have hated it, bored by this woman’s search. My own sister said she liked the Italy part (the pleasure), but hoped to God that she never had anything so dramatic happen in her life that would make her set our in search of God, depth, or to wake up on a bathroom floor crying in desperation. My hope is that none of my family or friends has to go through that, but my reality is that I did go through some terrible times, and even more real is that we probably all will at some point, and maybe this isn’t the book for everyone. My hope is that we find a book that saves our sanity, and this certainly was for me. (I also want to note that I’ve had people say that they couldn’t get into this book because she was an upper-middle class white woman, going through a divorce, who was paid to travel for a year. I think this is a moot point. Who cares about her income level, her race, or her means? I don’t think this changes the meaning at all.).

Anyway, this time I read the book a bit differently than the previous two times. I’m learning more how to love my flaws, embrace them, make them what makes me special. To not be so hard on myself. To learn to really, really, really love myself. To find God, something I’ve been on a search for. More specifically, to find God in me (as Gilbert writes, “God dwells within you, as you” and ” To know God, you need only to renounce one thing–your sense of division from God.”).

Oh yeah, and I also want to become really great at yoga, travel to an ashram one day, and, of course,  fall in love one day–probably traditionally.

I finished my third read of this book today, and for all the great lessons I’ve learned, I’m so very thankful.

Maybe all try to do all three in one day. Could you see it: I’ll go to yoga (pray), go to dinner (eat), and then go to a bar (love).

Nooooooo, I’m really just kidding.