A Year of Thanks

1 post a day for 365 days showing gratitude

“dissonances of discovery” November 30, 2010

Filed under: work — courtsbrogno @ 9:34 pm

Tonight, from 6-9p.m., I attended the university’s graduate teaching associate’s fall conference.

It was titled: Revising Realities: Identity and “Dissonance of Discovery” in the Composition Classroom.

Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

Actually, it was.

Besides the clear use of “academia speak to make me feel like I’m supremely more intelligent than everyone beneath me despite the fact that no one in the real world even cares because I’m  really only using a language that perhaps .5% of the population understands and, in fact, I probably just need therapy,” I had a great time. I learned quite a bit about new strategies for teaching comp, I empathized with new instructors trying to figure out how to mesh theory with practical applications, and I got to see and talk to some colleagues that I normally don’t see very often, but always enjoy being around.

I’m quite thankful for this little interlude in my grading and teaching routine. Even though it was still connected to work (i.e. grading and teaching), it was nice to be surrounded by a comp community (i.e. people who understand my job).

Good times, I tell ya, good times.


grading marathon November 29, 2010

Filed under: work — courtsbrogno @ 7:30 pm

This past weekend was a grading marathon. I finished grading for four classes; all essays and assignments are graded and back to students.*

I feel like this was an Olympic event, and yet, with all the fun I didn’t have this weekend, I feel like I only got a bronze metal.

Gold metal in finishing a whole lot of stuff. Bronze at having a life. Or wait, maybe I didn’t even place. Yeah, I probably didn’t even place.

I’m still thankful I’m done.** It’s nice to see my desk again.

*I still have 2 more class’s essays to grade this week. boo.

**I have yet to find one class’s revised essays. I really think they’re lost. I’ve honestly looked everywhere! So BUMMED!


hike, a mountain lion, and then a parade November 28, 2010

Filed under: family fun — courtsbrogno @ 7:13 pm

Because it’s Sunday and because we haven’t hiked in a few weeks, we decided today was the day to catch up on our hiking. Since we were going to be in the south county later today for a Christmas parade and because a friend had recently recommended hiking at a lake in south county, we decided to pay the $8 day fee and head out for a hike in south county, hoping that a hike around the lake would be worth the fee.

I really wanted to do the ridge hike, but it’s 7 miles and I knew that would be pushing it with Luke on my back, so we opted for the Cougar Hike, a 1.5. mile hike in, so a total of 3 miles total.

I’m not sure if this in one of my favorite hikes; we did seem to pass quite a few campgrounds, which made me feel like we weren’t really out in nature and away from people, but there were some incredibly beautiful parts.



We even saw deer:

When we finished the hike, I felt like we could still do a little more, so we crossed over to the other side of where we parked and did a short little hike to Rocky Point:



The most interesting part came right at the beginning of the hike when we turned a corner and heard a noise in the grass. I immediately thought it was a deer, but then I saw it. At first I thought, “fox”, but it was way too big to be a fox. Then I realized it was a bobcat. It was only about 10 feet away from me in the grass just off the trail. Maddie said it was a lion and wanted to turn back. I just laughed and kept staring at it.

I was so calm. There was no way I thought a bobcat would attack us. After about a 1 minute stare down, the bobcat turned around and walked away, and so we continued on with our hike. And while it was short, it really was stunning.




When we got to my sister’s after the hike, I was telling my brother-in-law about seeing the bobcat. He said, “so you saw the pointy ears they have?”

“Ummm…no. The bobcat didn’t have pointy ears. It had normal ears,” I said.

A friend said, “and the tail? it was a bob tail, a cut off tail?”

“Ummm…no, it had a long tail,” I said.

My brother-in-law pointed out that I had not seen a bobcat, but rather a mountain lion. After a quick internet search of what a bobcat and mountain lion look like, I can–with absolute clarity as I can still see the animal staring at me–say that it was, in fact, a mountain lion.

Dude. A mountain lion and I spent one whole minute staring at each other from just 10 feet away. I feel, well, breathless. I can’t believe we were that close to a mountain lion. But I think the fact that I was so calm and not scared at all (thinking it was a bobcat, after all) kept us safe.

But, damn! A mountain lion. Me and the kids. That’s a close call.

Anyway, we finished the evening with a whole bunch of friends for South County’s annual Christmas parade.

(all of the kids and adults at the parade)

And I love the small town Christmas parade where all you really need are some lights and people and maybe a dog to participate.

(Cate and Luke watching the parade)

I’m thankful for our very full day of hiking and then watching the parade. We all had a great time.

I’m also incredibly thankful that I jedi-mind tricked that mountain lion.


decorating for christmas, part 1 November 27, 2010

Filed under: family fun — courtsbrogno @ 7:13 pm

This evening, my sister and her kids came over for our annual decorating extravaganza.

That’s a bit of an overstatement since it’s just us and a few boxes. Plus, this year we’re going to hold off on getting our tree until next week (it’s killing me, this waiting, but I’m tired of having a dead, dead tree on Christmas day), so all we did was have pizza and decorate the house. But because I love Christmas SO MUCH, it felt like an extravaganza to me.

The little decorations we did put up transformed the entire house into a festive, holiday home.

Cate and Luke had more fun playing with the empty boxes than actually putting up decorations.

Even though Cate almost crashed Luke and they were fighting by the end of the evening, they were still happy to see each other.

My sister did what she does best:

All in all, it was a great evening, and I’m thankful that the holiday season is finally here. It’s my absolute favorite time of the year, and Christmas music and good vibes will be rocking in our home for the next month.

For we have 28 more days till Christmas!


luke’s home November 26, 2010

Filed under: kids — courtsbrogno @ 8:40 pm

I’m very thankful to have Luke back home and snuggled asleep next to me:

It was so nice to have dinner as a complete family, play together, and then crawl into bed with our usual array of books to read. It was wonderful to watch Maddie love on Luke and let him do whatever he wanted to do just because she missed him so much.

Even though Luke was only gone for 2 1/2 days, Maddie and I missed him terribly. To be honest, though, the time flew by, which made missing him go by quickly as well, so I’m definitely thankful for that too.


thanksgiving November 25, 2010

Filed under: self-discovery — courtsbrogno @ 9:24 pm

Maddie said: “So, today’s the day we celebrate when the pilgrims gave the Indians (“No, Maddie…Native Americans,” I corrected)sleeping bags full of disease that eventually killed them all and then the pilgrims also stole all the corn and pie from them too, right? So, then, ummmmm, what exactly do we celebrate today?”

Ahhhh…how I love my daughter and her (almost) correct interpretation of Thanksgiving.

Despite her reflections, I do believe Thanksgiving has morphed into a holiday that brings families together and makes everyone feel thankful for what they have.


To be honest, Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday. I’m not a fan of over-stuffing myself and then feeling ill and the pressure I always feel to say how thankful I am for my family and friends and everything I have.

It’s not that I’m not thankful for these things, but I just feel that Thanksgiving always seems, well, forced. Like forced thankfulness.

This year, in particular, with Luke gone, my brother living in Hawaii, my sister and her family with her in-laws, my uncle (who lives in town) ill, and the rest of my family celebrating in Los Angeles, this Thanksgiving felt rather sad, though I was still thankful to be with my mom, dad, Maddie, and family friends Ron and Caroline.

But I felt almost extra thankful for all I do have this year. Last night I watched a horrendous documentary called God Grew Tired of Us.

I honestly cried throughout the entire film. It was heart wrenching and eye-opening. Everyone should watch this film.

It made me thankful of all I have and embarrassed of all the excess of our country.

So tonight I’m thankful, yet saddened. I know I’m a busy person, with a job and kids and responsibilities, but there has to be something I can do. I do donate money to certain charities, but there has to be more than just writing a check.

The question remains, however, what? I think it will be my mission in the coming year to do something for those who have so, so, so much less. And to look at life through the lens of those lost boys: what do I need, what’s really important in my life, what can I give up to help someone else?

These are difficult questions, but in this giving season, they are questions I want to answer.

I don’t want to live a life where I contributed nothing in this world. Well, maybe not nothing, but certainly not enough.

Any ideas?


missing Luke November 24, 2010

Filed under: family fun — courtsbrogno @ 9:48 pm

Luke left this morning with his father for Seattle. his dad’s family lives in Seattle and so I agreed to let Luke go. It’s important that Luke spend time with his dad’s family.

But we miss him (even though he’ll be back Friday).

So Maddie and I spent the day staying busy to keep our mind off Luke being gone.

We cleaned the house spotless.

I graded ALL day.

Maddie had a friend over to play.

Then we spent the evening crafting Christmas decorations.

We lied out our materials:

The we got to work, and Maddie finished hers. She was so proud of it:

The finished product:

Our house is starting to feel a little bit more festive and I’m thankful for the time I spent with Maddie even though we’re still lonely without Luke.