A Year of Thanks

1 post a day for 365 days showing gratitude

how three days turn into one November 29, 2014

Filed under: work — courtsbrogno @ 7:14 pm

Very easily, actually. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday all turned into one day. Everything became the same except the actual day.

Let me explain. My kids were gone for Thanksgiving: Luke was at his dad’s house and Maddie went to my aunt’s house with my parents. I declined going with Maddie because I had SO MUCH WORK  to catch up on. Both my roommates were gone as well. So for the past three days, I’ve graded and napped and cleaned and graded and cleaned and napped.

Besides the grading, it was pretty mellow. The only thing that changed is the location of where I did my work.

The living room table was fun for awhile:

computer 2


Then the dining room was fun and had better light:


computer 1


Then the living room was cozy:


computer 3


But my bed was the most comfy:


computer 4


All I have left to grade is this, which I’ll get to tomorrow:

computer 5


But I was missing my family and my kids, and I’m happy to say that for the first time in three days I’m leaving tonight to have a drink with a friend.

But even though I was busy and alone, I’m grateful that I had this break to catch up.


wow. how did that happen? i have a week to catch up on. November 27, 2014

Filed under: family fun — courtsbrogno @ 9:01 am


I’ve been feeling the stress from students at the university–stress, it spreads to everyone  and can lower a classroom dynamic faster than anything else–so I decided to read out loud to my students my blog post from a few days ago, titled “Students.”

This was risky. I mean, I basically state that I hate teaching fall quarter because of them. But I also thought it might be nice for them to know how I felt as well.

I didn’t share the blog (obviously). Instead, I transferred what I wrote onto a word document and projected it to each class as I read it out loud and braced myself for what could be some terrible comments.

The students completely surprised me. Most of them commented on how much I seemed to understand freshmen and what they’re going through. But I also received comments like:

“Wow. I guess I never thought that professors get stressed too.”

“I never understood what a “C” meant in college and the difference from high school. I get it now.”

“Can you send this to my mom? She really doesn’t understand what I’m going through.”

“I really like the way you understand what we go through. But most of it is our faults.   We’re

adults. We need to spend more time on planning ahead and actually doing work.”

“You should publish this. All our parents and high school teachers should read this.”

Some of the more funny comments I heard:

“I think you need to add some transitions.”

“Why do you even like teaching?” –this led to a great conversation by the way.

I’m thankful I shared my feelings. I didn’t expect the student comments to be so understanding or profound. I’ve always felt that being more personal in the classroom is a good thing, and this just reinforced my belief.


I went on a blind date and IT WASN’T TERRIBLE. I’ve been on so many terrible first dates that having one be just “normal” (whatever that might mean) makes me thankful.

That is all. I have no expectations–nothing in me screamed out “I like this guy A LOT,” but nothing in me screamed out, “OMG. Get me out of here!.”

So we’ll see what happens.


The Mother Hips played and since they only play about twice a year now, I had to go.


It was a great show, but even I–a HUGE Hips fan–have to say that they have become more “jam band-y” as of late and I really, really don’t like it.

To make up for the parts of the show I didn’t like, though, was the great friends I was surrounded by:

rich(Terrible picture, but this is one of my favorite people, Rich, who teaches philosophy at the same university as me)

matt(And a complete SURPRISE visit from my old friend Matt, who has a wonderful girlfriend that just happens to live in town and so he’s moving back to town in May!!!!!)

I’m thankful for my night out, but even more thankful for the friends I have that make me feel so loved and appreciated.


I dropped Luke off at my parent’s house for a sleep-over. About once a month they take Luke and Cate for a night (and it’s a crazy night. Luke and Cate get along so well that it’s great, but the amount of talking they do can drive anyone crazy), which allows Maddie and I to have a date night.

This Saturday, we went to the movies and saw MockingJay, Part 1

imgresIt was a great film, but even better as being able to spend some quality time with Maddie and enjoy the fact that we did not fight:)



Luke swallowed a nickel.


Normally, this wouldn’t put me into a state of instant fear, but I remember back when Maddie was just a baby and we were visiting her grandparents in Irvine and her grandparents’s neighbor’s son had swallowed a penny and it WENT INTO HIS LUNGS AND HE ALMOST DIED. Actually, I don’t know if it’s true that he almost died, but that’s how my memory sees it.

So I got a little panicked and called the doctor.

The on-call nurse went through a list of symptoms, none of which Luke had, so the nickel didn’t go into his lungs and is making its way through his digestive system. THANK GOD.

Now I just have to spend the next week looking through his poop to make sure the nickel actually passes and doesn’t get stuck anywhere in his intestines. Lucky me.


I finally saw Minus the Bear play. This is a Seattle based band that’s  been around for over  decade, but the few times they’ve come to town to play, I’ve either been unable to go or the show sold out before I got tickets. Not this time though. And they were worth the wait. It was a great show and I’m thankful I had the chance to finally see them play.



OK, this might be a bit redundant, but I went on another blind date and it too wasn’t terrible. Of course, I don’t know what will come of this blind date, but once again, I was in no rush to get the hell out of there.

I’m beginning to see a pattern. The past two blind dates I’ve been on have been with men who are divorced and have kids. Normally, I would avoid such men because their baggage +  my baggage could only = a disaster. In truth, though, what I’ve noticed is that divorced me are SO DIFFERENT than men my age who have never been married (and I know this is a way too small sample for me to be making such broad claims, but I really don’t care). They are much more willing to be vulnerable. For example, both of these men made it clear that they are looking for something serious, because, as this one man said, “I want to go home with someone every night, and hold her hand, and look at her every morning.” Trust me. I have never heard this from a non-married man because saying something like that on a first date is bold, and terrifying, and brave.

So maybe divorced men are better. Who knows? But right now I’m just thankful this date went well and that I’m seeing, perhaps, a more honest side–or maybe just a different side– to men that I didn’t even know existed.


No work. No school.

The kids and I lounged around the house, cleaned, and I finally finished grading the last 10 or so essays that have been haunting me.

Then we went to my parents’ house for dinner.

I’m thankful for an easy day with the kids, a home-cooked meal I didn’t have to prepare, and finally finishing some work.


what makes my kids thankful… November 18, 2014

Filed under: food — courtsbrogno @ 8:44 pm

…is when I go grocery shopping. I’ll be honest, we’ve been running low on food. Not to the point of not having food, but enough to the point that both kids kept saying, “Can you go to the store PLEASE!!!”

But I’ve been busy and sick, and so today I finally had time to go, and brought back groceries.

And spent $180 on just the basics. JUST THE BASICS. Like juice, milk, sugar, cheese, toilet paper, bread, cereal, bagels, cheese, fruit, veggies. I honestly did not buy one non-necessary item.

This does not make me so happy. How high  has inflation gotten? Because seriously, this is ridiculous.

But I’m thankful my kids are happy.



Filed under: work — courtsbrogno @ 7:09 am

I always despise teaching fall quarter because I always teach freshmen composition. It’s not the class that bothers me, it’s the students. Almost all my students are straight out of high school and this is their first quarter at a university. And they have no idea what they’re in for.

First of all, college is NOTHING like high school. My university gets the best and brightest students and they come from being big fish in a small pond to small fish in an ocean. They don’t get it that a “C” grade means average when in high school that same “C” grade meant you didn’t even try. They equate effort with a grade, so I often hear, “But I tried so hard. I spent so much time on this essay [though they never mention how much time], how could I have received a “C”?” They have never been average. They will almost all realize that they are going to get the lowest GPAs in their entire school career fall quarter. And it’s everyone’s fault but their own.

They aren’t used to the quarter system, which goes by so quickly that they can barely keep up. They dream of sleep. They wish they had more time. They just don’t understand.

They are learning balance. Their parents just dropped them off 9 weeks ago to one of the biggest parties of their lives. The dorms are non-stop GO. There is so much to do: from the parties, of course, to exploring this new town to staying up late and just talking about life with new friends.

They are addicted to social media, so that’s a huge time dump.

These are the reasons I hate teaching in the fall. By winter quarter, not only have freshmen figured it out, but I usually have more sophomores, juniors, and even some seniors and they really have figured it out. Most are pleasantly happy with a “C.”

But believe me: I sympathize with these students. I remember how much I fumbled my first year of college, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to give them an “A.” That’s no longer my job, just as it wasn’t my professor’s job 20 years ago.

My task is to stay strong and steady in the face of the ever-increasing sour looks these students give me: because it’s my job, especially since I teach a G.E.

I mean really, why would writing ever be important?

If I sound a little bitter it’s because I am. But today I had a girl in my office just break down crying because of all the pressure she’s under. She was in my office seeking out help for citations, but then everything just fell apart for her.

And to be honest, I almost started crying with her.

Because as a teacher,  I too am overwhelmed. The quarter system doesn’t give me any time to take a breather either. I don’t like giving out “Cs” and “Ds.” I too am overwhelmed with work, and being a mother, and trying to squeeze in a small social life. I want to cry out, “It’s not my fault. It’s the system. It’s your high schools that babied you. It’s your fault for not coming to class or not paying attention because you were too busy instant messaging someone while I gave that lecture. How many times do I have to say ‘it’s on the syllabus!’ I want a nap as well!”

So, to be honest, the students and I are in the blame game together. And in a weird way, that makes me feel better and more connected to my students.

We’re in this together, crying girl. It’ll get easier. I’m sorry school is so difficult right now. I’m sorry my life is complicated. But we’ll get through this. We always do.

And when I think about the 50 essays I have left to grade, I just try t remember that I’ve done this before, felt like this before, and every quarter I come out alive. I’m thankful for that.


tripling up! November 16, 2014

Filed under: adult fun,friends — courtsbrogno @ 5:37 pm

Well, damn. I thought writing once a day would be so easy–after all, I did it for a whole year before! But I’m finding it difficult to remember. Sigh. Maybe it’s an out-of-practice thing. Or maybe it’s an age thing.


I’m thankful I got to spend some quality time with Luke in the morning. Friday is a transition day, meaning this week, he does to his dad’s house, and I always get a little teary eyed about not seeing him until Tuesday. So we often spend quality time discussing the finer things in like, ahem, Luke’s life: batman, Frozen, his best friend Zoe, what we will do next week. And I cherish every minute of it.

morn 2




I am also SUPER thankful that someone (really, there’s no name; it’s posted under anonymous) wrote this article, titled, “10 Things Single Parents Won’t Say (Because of how they’ll be judged).” I’ve been a single mom for over 15 years now and this article is Truth, with a capital “T.” Every person should read it, regardless of whether you’re a single parent or not because it will teach you how to treat a singe parent (like, with a bit of respect and understanding).


I woke up sick and with a case of PINK EYE of all things. I know this is from the university because I’ve been surrounded by sick kids all week, coughing and sneezing all around me. Plus, at least one student in each class told me that pink eye is going around the dorms. So nothing really made me feel that thankful other than I had some old pink eye medicine in the cabinet and advil. But then I saw this and I realized exactly what I want for Christmas.


NO JOKE!!!! Can someone please make this happen? Please. Id be forever thankful.


I’m still sick. Ugh. However I did manage to get out of bed and go to the first ever  SLO Record Swap. Yeah, I looked terrible and just wanted to lie back in bed and of course I saw a bunch of people I knew there, but I wanted to go and support our local economy and my friend who put it on, so I dragged my sick ass out of bed for an hour.

And I did find a bunch of records:


And to boot, Maddie and I ran into Carolyn, who’s looking fine as ever:


So even though I just wanted to crawl back into bed and I’m a bit embarrassed that so many people saw me looking my worst, I’m thankful I did get out of bed for a bit today.


being in the womb, it rained, and i’m off to ireland November 13, 2014

Filed under: adult fun,kids — courtsbrogno @ 6:40 pm

There’s just so much to be thankful for today. To start, over breakfast Luke just said, “Mommy, I was thinking about the time I was in your belly and how it was so beautiful.” He said this with such seriousness and sincerity that it stopped me completely. Because the time that Luke was in my belly, no matter how stressful the time was for me, was exactly that: just beautiful. I really don’t want anymore kids, but when I hear Luke say something like that, I swear my womb starts to expand. Because having kids is HARD, but it’s so worth all the love.

I’m also thankful because it rained today. A light mist fell all day. And it made everything just seem gorgeous. Our campus is so ugly, really it is. I often wonder what students on tour must think of all our mismatched buildings, but when it rains, the campus just feels magical, so even walking to teach felt great today.


Finally, one month from today I’m off to Ireland for a 9 day adventure by myself. My new passport came a few weeks ago and looking at it today just made the trip feel so real.


I am so excited, but I’m also so nervous. I love traveling by myself, but I have no plans for when I get there and not a lot of money. I’m really hoping that everything I hear about the Irish is true, especially their wonderful hospitality because I’m relying on someone to take me in and offer me a place to stay. I also don’t know what I want to do, but today, the New York Times posted  a video about what to do in Dublin, so that made my day and it felt like the universe was trying to tell me that everything will be fine. But I keep toddling back from being nervous and missing my kids to being excited for this adventure. I decided today, though, that I just need to get my head in the game and stop worrying. If I believe I will have a fantastic trip then I will.


doubling up November 12, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 3:02 pm

I cannot believe I forgot to write yesterday. I even told myself, “Make sure you write a post!” But then I–obviously–forgot. So today, I’m doubling up.


I’m thankful I had a day off! And yes, I’m thankful for veterans though i wish we didn’t need to have any. And during my day off, I played a lot with Luke (Maddie was catching up on homework all day, so I don’t think she appreciated the day off as much as me, though I bet she’s glad to have had a day off to catch up!):


I was also thankful to hear (via Intsagram) that my best friend, Katy, got engaged. No one, and I mean no one, deserves love and happiness more than her.



I’m thankful when I see a bunch of free books in a hallway and I find some that I  want. Actually, I didn’t have enough space in my hands, so I had to go back for more:

free books