A Year of Thanks

1 post a day for 365 days showing gratitude

where i live July 31, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 9:38 pm

Since work ended for me a little over 6 weeks ago, time has escaped me. The days and weeks have moved into an indeterminable continuum, one that, while I do remember appointment dates and am prompt for most planned events, eluded exactly that Saturday, like today for instance, is a rare day off for the rest of the working world.

Thus, when I decided at 2p.m. today to take the kids to the beach, one of our county’s most popular beaches for its south-facing climate, I was met with throngs of people enjoying their time off. Which meant 15 minutes looking for parking and dodging people carelessly crossing streets and then navigating through tons of people spread across the beach. We didn’t even get there until 2:30, surely not the most popular beach time I think, and there were more people packed on the beach then I have previously ever seen.

At one point Maddie looked at me and said, “Let’s not come back her until…like…Monday, when everyone’s back at work.” Good point.

We were surrounded by out-of-towners who were staying for the weekend (the couple next to us were staying until Thursday. Their longest vacation in 5 years!). I listened to snippets of conversations (one other couple next to us had named their daughter, probably about 9 months old, after this beach town) from people around us discussing how much they loved this town, how much better this area is than where they lived, how they went to college here and deplore their decision to move away, get locked into a job and responsibilities, and are now unable to move back.

After a couple of years bemoaning having to live in this area (there are some serious negatives to living in a small college town, a town I’ve lived in for 15 years. Stagnation. That’s a good word to describe it.), I’ve come to realize how awesome it is that I do live here. Hey, I can come to this beach any day; it’s only a 12 minute drive from my house. I don’t have to trek from places far away just to spend a few days a year at the beach. And it is just so beautiful here: the beach on the west coast, the rolling hills on the east, wineries in every direction, and a college that brings in small amounts of cultural awareness. Life’s not so bad here, and though I think I’ll make sure I’m more aware of everyone else’s time constraints (I’m not going to think of my own until forced back into the working world) by avoiding the beaches on Saturdays, I’m definitely thankful that I live where I live.


birthday beach fun July 30, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 9:14 pm

The kids and I made it to the beach today to join some friends and celebrate my good friend Jason’s birthday.

First, I’m thankful the sun broke through the clouds to warm us all up.

Second, I’m sooooo thankful that we saw a school of dolphins (are a group of dolphins called a school? I’m not sure about that). Just about 15 feet past the shoreline were beautiful dolphins leaping out of the water. It was breathtaking. So breathtaking, in fact, that I didn’t even grab my camera. I just stared in awe. There’s not much I can think of more inspiring than seeing dolphins in the water. Stunning.

Third, I’m thankful for my friend Jason. We went to grad school together and have been friends since. He’s also been my neighbor/semi-roommate for the past few months. I adore Jason. He’s quirky, funny, sensitive, awkward in a really sincere and endearing way, full of love for life and the world, and one of the most intelligent people I know. I mean it, he’s so smart and such a great writer that I seethe with envy. Even his simple and quick emails are deep and beautifully written. If I didn’t love him so much, I’d seriously hate him. So happy birthday Jason. You make all our lives better and more fun.

Fourth, I’m thankful that Luke can get so super dirty and sandy and sticky and covered with dog hair and NOT CARE AT ALL. It’s actually quite amazing.


“tween” attention July 29, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 8:46 pm

When I first told my sister that I was thinking about starting a blog, she quipped, “You should call it “terrible tweens and terrible twos.” This was because Maddie, having just turned 11, was really starting to act “tweeny”–she was moody and sullen and no longer thought I was her whole entire world. Instead, she wanted to hang out with her friends, watch teenage movies, and read Twilight. And Luke was about to turn 2 and tantrums had begun.

I should have probably taken her advice because staring at my son lying on the ground while he flails his appendages in all directions because I said “no” and then looking at my daughter with her oh-so-bored face complete with a roll of her eyes and a loud sigh has surely made me rethink the joys of motherhood. However, I’m glad I stuck with the gratitude idea because today I’m thankful for Maddie giving Luke and I a little “tween” attention.

Amidst all the awesome things Maddie’s done this week–surf camp, friend spending the night, her choice dinners, movies rented, and ice-cream–she has rewarded me with more sighs, rolled eyes, unappreciative comments, and relentless statements like “Mooooommmmm, I know. I’m 11. I don’t neeeeddddd you to tell me, ugh….” Now I know this is all hormonal, but come on! From the constant bored and hating-my-life look on her face, you’d think she was detained in a Russian gulag.

So today, when I took both kids to the pool, Maddie stayed consistent with her newfound identity by declaring she didn’t want to swim and would instead just lay out and tan and then spent her time on her towel with my new phone surfing the internet. I let her be and after an hour she must have gotten really hot because she jumped in the pool with me and Luke.

And then, for about 30 precious minutes, she was back to her younger self–happy, swimming, doing hand stands under water, and excitedly playing with Luke. She let Luke climb on her back, she tried teaching him how to swim, and she even let him pull her around the pool by her toes. She was even nice to me and thanked me for taking her to the pool (Amazing–an unprompted thank you!!!).

Ahhhh….30 minutes of “tween” attention was all I needed to forgive her for her sour looks, sour comments, and all around sour mood. Of course, by the time we got ready to leave, she was oh-so-cool again, walking ahead of Luke and I  with a scowl returned to her face, but I’m still thankful for our 30 minute reprieve. We needed it.


toddler time July 28, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 9:30 pm

My sister took her son and Maddie to our county fair today, so I had her daughter Cate and Luke all to myself all day. I knew we were going to have some fun–some serious toddler fun.

We started off our day by going to see my good friend Matt play his kid music  (whom I wrote about here) for our local YMCA. We sat outside, in the shade and danced with all those cute YMCA kids:

(Matt playing to an enthusiastic young crowd,)

(Cate and Luke before they started dancing. And running. And heading off in two different directions. Exhausting.)

As much as we loved hearing Matt’s awesome songs, the toddlers got restless and so it was off to the park for a bit and then home for lunch and a nap.

After napping, I packed up the kids and took them to the university’s dairy farm, so we could see the cows get milked.

(Watching the cows walk into the milking station area)

(Look at all those cows. It’s kind of gross actually. And it smells. Bad. Really bad.)

(Cate watching the cows eat. Fascinating.)

(OMG. Cutest baby cow ever. I seriously want one.)

I had been promising the toddlers some pool time, and when I read the pool hours on the website I swear it said 5:30-7:30 recreational pool time. So we left the dairy farm with swimsuits in hand only to be met with severe disappointment–toddler disappointment no less–that there was only lap swimming during those times. Dismayed, I took the toddlers to the park again where they still had fun.

Toddler day flew by, and I’m thankful that we had such a good day together. It’s rare that I get the two toddlers to myself, and it’s really nice to be on their schedule enjoying what they like to do. I’m also thankful that my sister took Maddie to the fair–she had such a great time. After spending the morning at surf camp and the rest of the day at the fair, Maddie passed out at 8:30. And after a whole day of toddler time, I’m in bed as well, almost too exhausted to read (but I just go this new book from Amazon, Young Romantics, and I’m so excited to read it that I’m going to force my eyes open to read for just a bit. It’s a history of the Romantic poets Byron, Shelley, and Keats, focusing on “the tangled lives of English poetry’s greatest generation.” That mean this book is like 19th c. People magazine. LOVE the concept.)


surf camp July 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 6:37 pm

Maddie started surf camp today, and though it only lasts 3 days, I’m thankful that she’s in it and enjoying her time.

This was a last-minute decision, and I’m thankful to a friend who told us about the camp. But then Maddie did not want to go (she went a few years ago and was miserably cold, which ruined the experience for her), but after some begging on my part and a quick phone call to her best friend who decided to go with Maddie, she reluctantly agreed.

Even though she was bitter that she had to get up so early (camp starts at 8a.m.), the complaints she had about how she was not going to like this–at all, and the off-hand comments about possibly dying from a shark attack when I sent her on her way, she was grinning from ear to ear when I picked her up, so happy, so excited, and so confident.

And that’s why I wanted her to do this camp–it’s a confidence builder. I don’t anticipate this experience will turn her into a full-fledged California surfer girl, nor do I expect her to be swimming out in the ocean. I do, however, want her to push her limits, not be afraid to try something that perhaps she didn’t like before, and to believe that she can be athletic at all kinds of sports.

And she wasn’t cold either (though I was):

(I know my camera has something on the lens, but it’s inside the camera, so it’ll have to be fixed. Which means shipping it to Illinois. I can wait.)


christine and derek July 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 9:57 pm

This is kind of a repeat thankful post, but I can’t help it…I’m just so thankful for Christine and Derek.

Like I’ve mentioned before, Christine is my old student turned babysitter turned friend, and Derek is her awesome boyfriend. Christine’s been in town for the last 2 weeks to spend time with Derek, but since he works all day, we got her all to ourselves for most of the day. This meant that she watched the kids so I could run or go to yoga almost every day, she hung out with Maddie taking her to the movies or lunch or just to walk downtown, and I got to hang out with her as well, just talking and catching up. It was amazing. Almost every day, she came over, and said, “Do you mind if I make you guys this for lunch?” I constantly told her she didn’t have to make us lunch, but she always did. And her boyfriend is equally as gracious and kind. He played with Luke, went to see girly movies with Christine and Derek, and all around seemed generally happy to just be hanging out with us.

Sadly, though, tonight was Christine’s last night in town, and I made a big dinner to end her visit.

It was so nice to have Christine and Derek to hang out with one last time in town (we will be seeing them next week when we all meet up in Oregon as they’re road tripping during our vacation time as well–yay!). It was so nice to eat dinner with them. And it will be so nice when (and this is my little fantasy that I really hope comes true) next summer Christine graduates from her teaching credential program and Derek takes a local job after finishing his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering, and they move in together and live in town and I can see them every day. So get on it, Christine and Derek,  mucho dinners are awaiting you.


running love July 25, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 8:36 pm

Today was our city’s triathlon. I didn’t participate. I’m so thankful that I didn’t run.

I dropped out, besides the fact that I was ill-prepared to run very well, because I pulled a groin muscle. That’s right, a groin muscle running from my pelvis to my right thigh. Which really hurt for the first few days and then subsided into a pain shooting from my thigh to my hip to my spine every time I ran. This is annoying. What’s even more annoying is that I can’t expand my thigh. What I mean is that if I sit cross-legged, my right leg can’t bend down to the ground; actually, it can’t bend very far at all without a shooting pain. This has really upset my yoga practice, which requires all kinds of hip extensions. So I look a little weird, and am extremely uncomfortable,  as I sit in even simple poses like janu sirsasana because my right leg just can’t go down. And forget about doing any type of Vrksasana. Missing out on running was a bit sad, but this is what is really bumming me out, especially since yoga is the one workout I’m pretty good out. So, so, so frustrating.

But missing the triathlon? To be honest, I was so relieved I didn’t have to do it. The only difficult part was finding someone to take my place so I didn’t leave my teammates with a huge problem. But right away, I called my friend Mike, who agreed to do it, though he’s made it clear that I owe him big. REALLY BIG.

Mike was nervous because he hadn’t trained and said things like, “I’m just hoping to finish.”

Whatever. Mike finished the course in a few seconds over 22 minutes. He basically ran a 7 minute mile. And he was still a bit disappointed, saying, “Man. When I was in high school, I could’ve run that in like 17 minutes.”

Ummm…sorry to bum you out Mike, but high school was about 20 years ago, and a 7 minute mile is amazing. Plus, he made my team look really, really good, which I most certainly would not have done.

I’m thankful for Mike today. He’s as awesome of a runner as he is a friend. And I think we just agreed to train together for our city’s 1/2 marathon in October. I’m already scared.