A Year of Thanks

1 post a day for 365 days showing gratitude

before the new year comes, let’s talk about christmas December 31, 2011

Filed under: family fun — courtsbrogno @ 6:48 pm

Because, after all, it seems almost pointless to write about Christmas after the new year. Even though it was just last week.

This Christmas was great. Luke finally understood the concept of Santa (though Maddie no longer believes), and it was delightful to see the joy and excitement in his anticipation. Christmas is the holiday that I love; all the others, well, I wouldn’t be that upset if they all disappeared. But Christmas, how I love it. I love decorating and listening to carols, and eating cookies, and buying presents. It just seems like everyone is in a better mood.

So, we took to the holidays this year by buying the biggest tree we would find (well, the biggest tree that would fit in our house). Luke and Maddie had to agree to which tree to buy, and surprisingly, they did so in a matter of minutes.

Maddie and I hauled that huge tree into our house and it stood perfectly straight–a Christmas miracle! The we got decorating.

We ended the decorating festivities with a nice dinner and hot cocoa for all.

Now that it felt like Christmas in our house, we watched as Christmas fever spread throughout our town, starting with attending Luke’s daycare’s snow day.

It was so much fun. Luke made snowballs, went sledding, and sat on Santa’s lap and didn’t cry. He told Santa what he wanted for Christmas as loud as he could: “CARS!”

So, on Christmas morning, the kids got up to see that Santa had eaten all the cookies we left (and made a mess!) and had brought Luke and Maddie exactly what they asked for.

After all the unwrapping and the chaos that lay among us, I asked what was their favorite gifts.

(Luke said his kitchen set from my mom and dad was his favorite)

(Maddie picked some books from her Aunt Jo and a Wii dance game from her dad).

Family, friends, food, gifts, and celebrating life is what the season is to me. My children–the anticipation, excitement, joy–is what I define as LOVE.


finishing up the work year December 30, 2011

Filed under: work — courtsbrogno @ 12:29 pm

I’m going to be backtracking a bit in the next few days, so I thought it would be appropriate to start with how my job almost killed me this quarter/semester.

I’m only half-kidding. I don’t know if it was the fact that I just really got used to summer relaxing, but when fall quarter/semester hit, I just felt overwhelmed. I think I made my job more difficult on myself by using the wikis so much that I felt constantly behind.

But whatever, it’s over.

And it was down to the wire for me getting my grades in on time.

(The beginning stages: organizing into piles)


(Grading like a mad woman)

(Everything is graded. Now organizing into separate piles)

(Swear to God I had to use my entire office to do this)

I finished with a half hour to spare, but I felt like I had run a marathon. The only highlight of this grading marathon was when a student inserted this into his essay for me:

Yes, I am that dorky.


nature abounds December 27, 2011

Filed under: kids — courtsbrogno @ 7:34 pm

There’s so much to catch up on and share, but for now, I’m just going to tackle today.

Because today was a great day. A spur of the moment day when I woke up and thought, “I want to do something really fun with the kids. An adventure.” I feel like we’ve been in the house a lot, caught up in the holidays and family and rushing around.  We all needed a change of scenery. We needed to slow down.

So, I decided to take the kids to Salmon Creek for a hike. I’ve passed by it every time I’ve gone to Big Sur and I’ve never made the hike, but today, it was 60 degrees, the sun was shining, and we didn’t have anything to do (except for cleaning the house and I did not want to do that). Maddie was grouchy at the prospect, Luke was kind of tired, but I had made up my mind: we were going.

We didn’t do the whole hike. Only to the waterfalls and then we lopped back around to go about half-way to Spruce Camp. I would have liked to have made it all the way to Spruce Camp, but it was such a steep climb and with Luke still on my back, it was getting too difficult.

But it was still gorgeous.

(The hike up.)


(The falls. Gorgeous.)

(Luke was so, so, so made I wouldn’t let him get naked and go play in the water.)

(Luke finally got off my back and walked a little bit by himself)

We then left, and we were all in a better mood. Maddie had stopped pouting, Luke had some energy, and I felt renewed.

We stopped a few times on the side of the road to take in Big Sur’s stunning views:

We also stopped to see the elephant seals.

It was a long day driving up the coast, but it was worth it. Getting my kids out and into nature: that makes me happy. They may not always be pleased, they may whine, they may pout. But once in the depths of nature, their faces change as they become almost enchanted with and by nature’s energy. There is a distinct change in them. Far away from distractions, we have nothing to do but observe the beauty of this earth: the flowers, the trees, the water rushing to the Pacific, the monstrous seals flapping sand over their bodies, winding roads, breath-taking scenery.

It’s not hyperbole when I say this is what keeps me feeling alive in spirit. I want to roll in the dirt and spread my arms against thick rock.I want to rest my head in the moss and whisper my problems to a rushing stream.

And I do, all of this. Because nature abounds. And absorbs all of me.