A Year of Thanks

1 post a day for 365 days showing gratitude

blissed out lazy summer days August 5, 2011

Filed under: books and reading,family fun,friends,kids — courtsbrogno @ 1:48 pm

I have finally found my summer stride and all this means is that I’m feeling rather peaceful and really, really lazy. For example,  I usually have a really clean house (as noted on several of my blog posts) and take advantage of every free moment I have to do the house “extras”: cleaning out closets, fixing up the backyard, doing something for work.

But this summer, I’m doing none of that. Don’t get me wrong, I still clean my house, but instead of a good cleaning every other day, I’m waiting until the last possible moment to bust out the broom and mop. But by forgoing my neurotic cleaning, I’m actually enjoying summer a lot more. The kids and I have almost perfected the art of lounging in our PJs, meals come when we decide we’re hungry rather than on any timed or planned schedule, and basically, we’re just playing a whole lot.

I have also perfected the art of procrastination this summer. I had planned so many projects to do this summer–changing an entire class structure in one comp class I teach, working with a couple of learning communities, quilting a few quilts–and I’ve done almost nothing. Even this blog has been put on the back burner of things I need to do. Surprisingly I am feeling no guilt what-so-ever about this. Even when Christine, my adorable roomie for the summer, came up to me the other day with a pouting face and said, “when are you going to write your blog post? I really miss it,” I just smiled and said, “soon.” And so this has become my summer mantra, “I’ll get around to it when I feel like it.”

Feels pretty damn good.


I can’t tell you how many amazing beach days we’ve had. It’s so nice to hop into the car, drive 10 minutes, and be at the beach, relaxing. I must admit, I get a little smug when I meet a stranger who tells me about how much she likes vacationing here. In a moment of schadenfreude, I smile and say, “I know; I’m so fortunate,” but what I really want to say is “Fuck yeah, sucka!”


Maddie asked if she could give me a pen tattoo. I said sure. This is what she tattooed on my thigh:


My dad’s sister, our dear Aunt Judy, just got into town from New Jersey. She’ll be here for 10 days and we’re all so excited and thankful.


My brother also came back into town. He’s been living in Hawaii for the past year and a half, and I haven’t seen him since he moved. We only got to see him for a few days because he’s moving to the Bay area, but I was thrilled to have him back. He’s cool, funny, insightful, and damn, do I just love him so much. We’re pretty close and I can–and do–tell him everything, so having him back stateside and close by makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

To celebrate his return, I invited a bunch of friends over for a big dinner. It was so nice to all be together.

(Jonathan, my sister, and me. Reunited again.)

(Jon and Jon: best brother and best brother-in-law)

(Kids playing during the party.)


Luke’s been needing an unusual amount of love and comfort lately. I’m not sure why he’s feeling this way, but I can’t resist holding him and hugging him and loving him. I mean, really, who can resist this face:

(“I want you mama,” Luke says about 100 times a day.)


In the biggest news of my summer, we all had the chance to witness my Uncle Mike do something incredible: compete and finish in his very first ironman. For the past year, my uncle has been training and running smaller races (he even completed a half-ironman earlier this year) all to be ready for the big one. The ironman triathlon is a monster of a race: a 2.4 mile swim, a 114 mile bike race, and then a marathon. The ironman my uncle competed in was in Sonoma and is called the Vineman. He started the race at 6 in the morning and finished at 10p.m. 15 HOURS!!! I can’t imagine doing anything for 15 hours, let alone competing in a race. Like my brother said, “I can’t even sleep for 15 hours!!!1”

But he completed the race despite having some pretty bad knee and calf cramping by the time he got to the marathon portion. We are so very proud of him!

(Waiting for the race to begin)

(Finishing the swim portion)

(Starting the bike portion)

(About 16 miles into the run. Looking good!)

(The finish line)

(Luke and I waiting at the finish line.)

(Finished! Maddie with Uncle Mike. He’s now an official IRONMAN!!!)

It was a long day and I didn’t do anything but show up for the end. Much props goes out to my Aunt Debbie, her husband David, my sister, and my mom who were there for almost the entire race, cheering and handing out gel packs. I’m so fortunate to have seen such an amazing feat. And even though my uncle said this was the only ironman he’d ever do, he’s already signed up for another 1/2 ironman and a 50K ultra marathon all in the fall. he also just announced yesterday that he’s going to do the Vineman again next year and try to cut off two hours from his time! I think he’s a bit batty, but you can bet we’ll be there to support him!


Because my uncle was doing the Vineman and it was in Sonoma, most of my family decided to make a vacation out of it and rent a house on the Russian River. My mom and dad, my sister and her family, my Aunt Debbie and her husband, my brother-in-law’s sister, and I all enjoyed a beautiful house right on the Russian River, complete with a private beach. It was heaven.

I actually left a few days before everyone else, so I could stop and visit friends and family along the way.

I just love driving over the Golden Gate Bridge. Is there a more beautiful bridge anywhere? I think not.

The first stop I made was to visit my old college roommate, Cory and his son Jake (his beautiful wife, Kara, was working so we didn’t have a chance to see her.).

(Picture taken from facebook. Had to steal it because it’s just the most beautiful photo ever!)

We met at Cory’s house and then took the kids to the park and took a walk in a little creek. We all had the best time.

From Cory’s house, we drove to my cousin Nicole’s house to spend the night. Nicole and her husband are the nicest people and their two sons are not only gorgeous, but so well-behaved!

(Nicole and Chris. Another pic stolen from facebook because I suck at taking good pictures!)

(Beckett, the most adorable two-year old ever! P.S. Pic stolen from facebook)

(Baby Finn, the newest member of Nicole and Chris’s family. And I actually took this photo)

(Nicole and Chris have a little studio under their house, aptly named the Rose Cottage, which is where we had the privilege of staying!)

It’s funny because when we were all little kids, all the cousins would see each other quite often, but then distance and family changes separated us and we didn’t see each other very often at all. Over the past year or so, as adults, we’ve all made a concerted effort to see each other more often, and I’m so glad we’ve done this. It’s not only nice to get together and talk about our kids and lives, but also to catch up on the past. I feel so very blessed that we were able to spend some time together and I look forward to many more nights chatting over wine with the kids playing in the background. This is what life should be about.

After a great visit, we left Nicole’s house and battled some terrible traffic to make it to Sonoma.

We arrived at our destination, a huge 5 bedroom house right on the Russian River. The whole weekend was filled with relaxation and river time (after the big ironman day that is). My best friend Michelle, her husband, and their two kids even joined us. We had such a nice time. I would go back in a heart beat.

(The view from our house. From the trees you can see the beach and river.)

(The river)

(Big family dinners are my favorite!)

(Luke, Cate, and Olivia relaxing in the river)

(Michelle’s daughter Olivia is pretty much the cutest little girl ever!)

(Olivia and Luke watching a movie and resting)

(My dad with Cate and Luke on the hammock.)

(My dad and Cain [Michelle’s husband] took all the kids on a canoe ride.)

(Luke and I lounging and chatting)

(Enjoying inner tubes)

(Naps outside under an umbrella may be Luke’s new favorite thing)

(Michelle holding baby Lila and me.)

The weather was perfect, the company was amazing, and the river was awesome. I could get used to a lifestyle like this.


I had the most random fun night out. It all started with Garth coming to town. We went to a poetry reading, then out to dinner, then met up with some friends, and then spent the rest of the night dancing. Well, let’s be honest, Garth sat in the corner talking and I danced. It’s so nice to know that Garth and I can be friends, really good friends, and go out and have a really fun night with really fun people. It always amazes me how far we’ve come from when we dated. But it just goes to show: we were better friends than anything else.

(Garth and I)

(Garth went to school with this woman, Sabina. Turns out she’s one of the top tattoo pin-up girls. Besides being absolutely beautiful [and a mother of three kids!], she was one of the  nicest girls I’ve met in a long time.)

(This guy danced with me all night long, and he’s a practiced swing dancer, which meant that we really, actually danced together. Which I was terrible at. he pointed out that I just don’t know how to let a man lead [big surprise!], so he asked me to trust him, and I did. Then he flipped me over his head and spun me around. Everyone saw my undies. Awesome.)


As someone who’s just getting her toes wet dating again, I’ve had a lot of time to think about what I like and don’t like in a partner, as well as what I need to work on myself. Finding the right balance seems impossible at times, and it’s so easy for me to get caught up in the moment rather than thinking ahead and making wise decisions. But this past week, I saw a few images that help remind me of what I should look for in a man, in myself, and in life.

I also read this great blog post by Donald Miller. Donald Miller is actually a Christian writer, though pretty liberal. And why I don’t consider myself a Christian, or maybe a good Christian, or maybe what I’m trying to say is a practicing Christian, I did think his post was beyond wise, and I basically just ignored all the Biblical connections (though to be honest, there weren’t many). His post is titled, “How to Live a Great Love Story Vol II For the Guys” (as soon as I typed that I realized that there must be a Vol I for the girls, which I haven’t read, but will do so immediately). I seriously urge you to read this. It doesn’t matter if you’re a male or female, dating or married: This guys makes some excellent points.



My writing project is coming along nicely. I’ve written 40,000 words, and I still feel confident in the direction its taking. But that doesn’t mean I’m confident. I have moments of confidence where I think, “Yes. This is good. This is really good. I’m actually going to make an impact on American modern literature.” These moments mostly come to me when I’m drunk, which isn’t really that often. And when I’m drunk I feel pretty confident. And make incredibly stupid comments that I’ll actually change American literature.

Mostly though, I’ll write a thousand words, unsure, and then have a serious panic. I’ll think everything I’m writing is absolute crap, and I’ve wasted almost an entire summer writing terrible prose and an overly-sentimental plot and a character that no one will like. I feel like this about 80% of the day.I know that my dialogue and descriptions and language are terrible, but I also know a lot of revisions will improve that. But I keep getting stuck in the same cycle of self-doubt: what about the plot and the main characters? What if the actual plot sucks and the characters do too and no one wants to read it (not even me!).

So I finally made a decision: I broke my promise to have no one read a draft and sent it to three people. Three.

The first person I sent it to was my friend Jeremi, who actually read the first 15,000 words and liked it. I trust Jeremi’s opinion more than almost anyone I know and I told him to give me good constructive criticism.

The second person I sent it to was my sister. She actually did not want to read it because she feels like she’s not in the right literary caliber. Which is exactly why I picked her. I’m too embarrassed to give this to one of my high-literary colleagues, but my sister is smart, and she reads a lot. All I asked her to do is read what I have so far and tell me if she wants to read more. I don’t want her to worry about critiquing anything else.

The third person I gave it to was my brother and only because he begged and I hadn’t seen him in such a long time. I gave him the same instructions as my sister. Part of what I also told Jeremi, my sister, and my brother is that the 2 page introduction is super lame and I’m taking it out, so to pretty much ignore it. I feel like I made a mistake in giving my writing project to my brother because as soon as he started reading it, he said, “The intro is really terrible. I mean really bad. Whiny. Girl-whiny. God. It’s just bad.”

“I know,” I said, “that’s why I’m taking it out. Ignore it. Just read the whole thing quickly and tell me if you’d want to keep reading. If you’re interested.”

“Well, I hope it’s better than the intro cause that really sucked.”

Ugh. Maybe I’ve made a huge mistake, but I do want the honest truth, and I’d much rather be exercising and getting my ass in shape than just writing a load of crap. No one’s gotten back to me about it yet and so I feel anxious all day long. It’s like the first time you tell a man (or woman) that you love them. There’s always a pause and you wonder:

1. Will he/she say ‘I love you too’ quickly and actually mean it? Which makes you feel VICTORIOUS and totally full of love and happiness and encouragement.

2. Will he/she say ‘I love you too’ slowly and just be saying it to appease you, but in no way does he/she mean it. Which makes you feel depressed, but at least hopeful that the real love will come around.

3. Will he/she say nothing and just look at you in some sad, pathetic way and then you’re screwed and you feel like an idiot. And don’t give me all that self-help shit about how at least you said it and were true to your feelings because that doesn’t change the feeling of being a complete and total sad sack moron.

All three of these things have happened to me in the past and waiting for writing  feedback today is like being stuck in the long pause between saying ‘I love you’ and getting a response: torturous.


All in all, I’ve had a wonderful couple of weeks and we’ve been pretty busy doing almost nothing everyday except enjoying ourselves. I feel these blissed out lazy days are exactly how summer should be.


4 Responses to “blissed out lazy summer days”

  1. Denise Says:

    Ahhhh!!! Thanks for the post. Glad to see your having such a great and relaxing summer. Can’t wait to see you Monday and catch up!

  2. christine Says:

    finally!!! :]

  3. GEW Says:

    The river house looks like so much fun! And I envy all of your beach days. We loaded up on Tuesday, hoping to have our first beach day since getting back from the trip,and we got totally thwarted by wind. And now I start working next week! Bah. On another note, I think it’s awesome that you’re writing a novel. I’m thinking of starting one that I have an idea for (it would be chick lit and would NOT make an impact on literature), but since I already have a hard enough time finding time to work on the dissertation, I’m not sure starting a novel would be such a good idea! Glad you are having such a good summer!

  4. i’m just glad i made the “favorite” list and not that other list…

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