A Year of Thanks

1 post a day for 365 days showing gratitude

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.


Christmas is almost here, so I’d better get to summer and fall December 23, 2013

Filed under: family fun,friends — courtsbrogno @ 8:12 am

Ohhhh…this post has been a long time coming, but there’s been so much going on in my life that I haven’t made any time to write on this blog. But I have been writing…more about that later.

For now, let’s just get to summer. Here’s the deal. We had PLANS. Lots of them. Maddie even made a summer bucket list with tons of cool stuff for us to do: camping, road trips, face painting. It was a really long and fun list.

But we did practically NONE of it.

This was partly because we had to move AGAIN. But this was a great thing. My terrible, awful landlord actually moved into the house right behind us and  made it her sole purpose and pleasure to make our life a living hell. I’m not going to go into the details now because I’m trying desperately to forget about the whole incident. We also, in the midst of deciding to move, had to make some choices: do the kids and I strike it out on our own or do we move as a whole family, S and Kirby included. We decided to go with the whole family. But living where I do, it’s almost impossible to find a place that’s 1. affordable and 2. allows dogs and cats. So we looked and looked and looked and got frustrated and more frustrated and then we made contact with Marcy, who is now our most amazing landlord, a God-send, and rented us her house, which is on my favorite street and is old and has character and most importantly, very large. It’s also super close to downtown, Maddie’s school, and my work. I will die in this house.mving(Moving SUCKS, but moving away from the anti-Christ made it all worthwhile).

luke moving(This is how Luke helped move.)

new house(Our new house with an awesome porch)

new house view(The view from our porch)

new house view 2(We even got a rainbow a few days after we moved in. Surely this is a very good sign).

So most of the summer we spent giving this new house some TLC. It’s such an old house it really needed it. We planted a garden and painted, which for the dining room meant removing about 12 layers of paint and wallpaper.

painting(Ridiculously difficult work, especially when using a butter knife and some vinegar)

Partly our summer was also super mellow because I was so burned out from teaching. Because I joined SUSTAIN and had to change most of my curriculum, I was incredibly busy, and when school ended, I just kind of flopped down and stayed that way.

But we did have time to go to the beach a whole bunch.

maddie beach friends(Maddie and her girlfriends who wouldn’t sit next to me nor Luke).

luke beach(But Luke and I still had fun)

luke beach 2(He never minds getting super dirty. I love this about him)

beach(Kirby never minded Luke running into the water, getting super cold, and then lying on him)

S took the kids to our local shelter and we got a new cat. Ahem, S got a new cat. I refuse to take care of one more living thing.

boo boo bat ears(Luke names him Bat Ears. S named him Boo Boo. Now we call him Boo Boo Bat Ears. P.S. No one knows what happened to his tail)

I took Luke to the circus (no animals!) and he loved it. Maddie didn’t want to go to something “so silly,” but we had a great time.

luke circus(God, I love cotton candy so much.)

I also found out I won a little award. It makes me feel all weird inside though, like I don’t deserve it or something. I don’t know how to describe it. It just doesn’t feel right. But at the same time, I very proud of myself.


I got a chance to get away from the kids and town and go down to LA to do some exploring.

la trip 2(Went to the LACMA. Rothko gets me every time)

la trip 3(I just thought this was hilarious. And very, very true. If not a bit didactic)

la trip(I went to the Edison in Downtown LA and saw a pretty cool burlesque show)

la trip 4(My biggest LA accomplishment: I navigated the LA garment district, didn’t get lost, and haggled for prices!)

me and gpa(And I got to see my grandpa!)

We also did sneak in one trip this summer. We went up to the Russian River like we do every year (OK, I skipped last year) to watch my Uncle Michael run the ironman–named the vineman because it goes through Sonoma. This year he finished in about 13 hours. INCREDIBLE.

river trip 1(Family vacation beginning!)

river trip to see jonathan(Saw my brother for a minute!)

redwood house(We stayed at a rental, but it is my dream house. A redwood grew through it. And there were gnomes. I love gnomes)

river(We hung out by the beautiful Russian River)

l and m river(River life)

luke river

mama and luke(I could move to this area in a heart beat)

finished im(And we watched my uncle’s crazy race. But he did it and beat his old time by hours. I was so proud. Hell, we all were)

luke um ironman(Except maybe for Luke, who got pretty tired at the end of the day)

gg bridge(Back over the Golden Gate Bridge [the best bridge!] because it was time to start getting ready for fall)

We also took in some Cal Poly soccer games before school started.

family soccer game(Maddie was at a sleepover, but we were missing her)

cp soccer game(The players always come by and say hello to the kids. I love this about our team).


But right before, Maddie got braces!

maddie braces(Dammit! She’s still so beautiful. I’m hoping though that the braces will be a boy-stopper).

So school started, and Maddie changed schools. No more private, Catholic school. This girl is a full-time public high school student.

maddie freshman(And she loves it. And so do I. No joke. I love this school so much)

And then the first day of school came for all of us. Maddie off to be a freshman and Luke off to Kindergarten. I tell you, I almost lost it. If I didn’t have to teach  that day, I would have probably cried all day long.

1st day of school(First day. New backpacks. Slays me.)

And then life got super busy.

Maddie made the volleyball team.

maddie vball

m vball

And still played soccer.

maddie soccer

And this was also Luke’s first year playing AYSO soccer.

luke soccer

And between Maddie’s busy schedule and Luke’s schedule and adjusting to new schools and new schedules, I still had to work.

back to work

(My office. No fun happens there)

There were, at times I admit, that I felt like I was holding onto our lives with the very thinnest of strings. Threads really. Let’s be honest, in retrospect, I have no idea how I did it all. Lean-In, Sheryl Sandberg? Fuck You. I’m just trying to stay standing.

But this did cheer me up at some low points:

luke jesus(Luke drew this and claims it’s Jesus Christ. When I asked him who Jesus is, he said he didn’t know. That’s my boy. And probably my poor parenting).

As did the fact that I finally got a new, working record player. Finally!

record pplayer

And went to a fun vintage party with some good girlfriends:


Then got crazy sick:

sick(My message to Kirby)

Maddie went to her first high school dance–Homecoming. And I was thrilled that she wore converse!!!! But, shhhh….don’t tell her I told you that)

maddie 1st dance

Thanksgiving came and went, but I was so busy I barely noticed. However, the local Cal Poly turkey made it out alive. Thankfully.

cp turkey

And that about sums it all up. I rushed I know, but it wasn’t that interesting of a summer or fall. I mean, it was interesting for sure. A bunch of new changes and expectations and there’s a lot I’m leaving out because I’m saving some things for a few future posts.

Next summer will be better.

Here’s an adorable picture of Luke though, which makes up for almost anything bad he does as well as hopefully this rushed blog post:

cutest luke pic ever


happy valentine’s day (suckers!) February 14, 2013

Filed under: friends — courtsbrogno @ 2:22 pm

Just kidding. For those of you who love to spend money one day a year in an effort to show love, well, by all means, go right ahead.

I mean, it’s not like I’m bitter or anything. I mean I only spent all last night making this shirt:


That’s right, I decided for V-day this year, I would make a shirt to let it be known that if you have broken my heart, you will now be forever sewn onto my shirt. This is totally inappropriate in so many ways, but I don’t even care. And I do have hope–see the love seeping in? With great care, I’m positive that I can heal my heart so the scars of men slowly lessen.


why I love andy January 13, 2012

Filed under: friends — courtsbrogno @ 10:29 am

Because  comes over to my house and cooks dinner for me and my kids:


Because he buys himself an expensive, fancy shower head and when it’s too big for his shower, he doesn’t return it, but instead comes and installs it in mine:

Because when I ask to borrow his ax to cut my Christmas tree, he doesn’t just lend it to me, but comes over and cuts the tree for me:


Because when I got rid of my TV a few months ago and decided I wanted my living room to be more suited for conversation than just static entertainment, I asked Andy to help me redecorate. But then the holidays came and decorations went up. But once the decorations came down, I stared at my living room and thought “blah.” I started moving furniture around and purchased a new chair and a lamp, but then I got stuck. Fortunately, Andy came over and with his creative eye, he got straight to work: moving paintings, candles, books. Voila: I now have an amazingly comfy living room, which I’m now calling the “parlor.”



I love Andy for many more reasons that the kindness he bestows on my family. His ease of conversation, his constant comfort, his keen advice always: he’s a treasured friend. I’m so thankful for him.

And I won’t share him. Sorry.


vacation’s over January 10, 2012

Filed under: family fun,friends,kids — courtsbrogno @ 5:27 pm

I’ve officially been back to work for a week now, and surprisingly, I’m feeling really good about this quarter. I felt ready, really ready, to get back to work.  Though, the day before school actually started, as I was sitting in my office prepping, a sense of dread did come over me.

Thankfully, it passed. And before school started, I had a fantastic break with the kids.

Maddie won our local AYSO U14 final game, coming in first place and then came in 3rd place in regionals.

She had such an amazing team of girls. They all got along so well.

Her coach, Coach K, was amazing: by far the best coach we’ve ever had. In any sport. Hands down.

Maddie played so well this season. Her coach guided her to become more aggressive, skilled, and overall, gave her the shot of confidence she needed.

I’m thankful that my best friend Jill, her husband Greg, and her son Gavin made the drive to see Maddie’s game. That’s true friendship.

My sister and her family also came. I’m thankful for how supportive they ALWAYS  are.

The kids and I also went to see my nephew Braden’s soft ball game. It was really cute. And some of these boys are so talented!

Maddie and I went to see my niece Cate’s very first ballet recital. It was so damn cute, I wanted to capture the moment forever. All of us cheered her on.


On a sunny yet chilly day, I took the kids down to the beach with Baily, our dog, to walk along the pier and play in the sand.

Then we went to the barn to buy some fresh produce and walked among the sunflowers.

Luke and I had a date and went apple picking. Even though the season is over and were few apples left, we still enjoyed the experience.



I spent hours making flower bobby pins and magnets for Maddie’s school to sell for their annual Christmas Boutique.

Luke and I had one of many coffee dates while Maddie was out busy with her friends.

The Luke got sick and even though I hate to see him ill, I love how cuddly and loving he is.

As a treat for our family, Milo, our cat, brought home a mouse.

That was still alive! I tried my best to save it (him? her?), but alas, Milo had the final say and the mouse died.

In many ways our vacation seemed too brief, but then it also seemed incredibly long at the same time, which is probably why I was ready to get back to work. But I’m thankful for the quality time I had with my kids.

I’m also thankful that I had a fun New Year’s Eve without the kids. I was with my sister and a bunch of friends at a local restaurant, and I had so much fun, I didn’t even take pictures, except for this one which a friend sent me (and it’s not even that good, but at least it kind of shows how much fun everyone is having).


I really believe 2012 is going to be a GREAT year with much to look forward to.

My only New Year’s resolution is to be more conscious of what I’m thankful for. I think not writing everyday has made me less conscious, which I don’t like. I also resolved to tell people–in person–that I’m thankful for them. Even if they hear it multiple times from me, I’m going to be much more vocal this year.

Finally, on New Year’s Eve my friend Devin, who had recently broken up with her boyfriend of 4 years, introduced me to her new boyfriend. He was so handsome and nice and I told Devin this. She responded by saying:

“That’s because I’m great and I deserve great things, and so look: I got someone GREAT!”

I love it. Devin is a humble person–no ego at all. But she knows she’s great and she has a wonderful and healthy confidence.

So I’m also stealing Devin’s saying and making it my own for 2012:

“I’m great and I deserve GREAT things”


mama’s edition November 18, 2011

Filed under: adult fun,friends — courtsbrogno @ 6:22 pm

I wish I could say that I’ve been having a raging fun time over the past few weeks, but that would be such.a.big.lie.

Because I’m overloaded with grading. The good thing, however, is that I still enjoy my job, even if I complain about the workload. Another good thing is that with my spare time I go sit at my favorite coffee shop and grade, which makes the reading seem easier. I almost always run into my good friends and colleagues, so we grade together. Okay, really we bitch about our grading. But still.

My usual spot.

How can Jenny be grading with a glass of wine? Me thinks it makes for better grades.

Truly, Andy and I work hard.

In between all the grading and reading, I have had a few opportunities to get out and see some music and friends.

I went to the Jade Festival in Big Sur with my friend Greg:

Perfect Big Sur weather. Perfect crowd.

Greg getting food.

Greg’s dog Jack gets more attention than any dog I’ve ever known. He’s super friendly.

We bumped into my friend Tim who lives in San Francisco. Such a treat to see him.

That’s a HUGE piece of jade.

It was a joy to  celebrate my good friend and colleague and old office-mate Erin’s 40th birthday:

40 never looked so good.

I saw the Mother Hips play in town with some good friends.:

Paul, one of the friends in our group, got a comped booth. Nice!

Paul and Julie are so much fun. And a little crazy. But in a good way.

We had fun.

I also had the chance to go to our town’s Art after Dark. I met up with friends, had some beer, and checked out some amazing art. I especially liked the university’s student furniture show–such talented students we have!

I loved this. I wanted to buy it. can’t believe it’s student made.

Melanie and her son Diego painted a skateboard deck for one store’s gallery. Well done.

I know, this mama edition isn’t that interesting. Well, mama’s been super busy.

At least I’ve caught up with the past month and a half. I left  a lot out, but in general, we’ve been working hard, playing some, and enjoying life a lot.

There’s not much we could ask for.


20 years ago September 14, 2011

Filed under: adult fun,family fun,friends,kids — courtsbrogno @ 10:01 pm

Twenty years ago, I was 15 and I thought I knew everything. Everything. I mean, everything. I had the entire world figured out and with the help of Kurt Cobain, I really understood life. I had watched enough Disney and John Hughes movies to know how love worked, I had a good group of friends and we were convinced we’d live next door to each other forever, and all the money I made at my part-time job was spent on me, me, me. I was the center of the universe. The world gravitated toward me.

Twenty years later, at 35, I realize I know nothing. Nothing. I mean, nothing. Kurt Cobain killed himself, life moved on, and I don’t understand much. There weren’t enough movies at the Cineplex to teach me about love and life, my friends have morphed and changed over time and none of us are neighbors, and all my money is spent on bills. My children are the center of my universe and I am but a small speck of dust, 1 person of almost 7 billion. I do not hold the world in my hands. I do not have the answers.

But somehow I feel like I still have learned a lot. Even though I know less and am more uncertain every day, I actually know more and grow more certain every day. I look at this sentence and realize it makes no sense, but yet, it also makes perfect sense. Wonderful sense. In the past 20 years I have changed more than I could ever have imagined and the past few weeks have shown me how different my life is at 35 from what I thoguht it would be when I was 15.

At 15, I never imagined myself with two kids and single. I think I imagined myself married and living in sweet harmony somewhere in Montana (I always wanted to live in Montana. I don’t even know why. I’ve never even been there) with a couple of young kids running through the grass. Easy kids. Always well-behaved kids. Now, at 35, however, I couldn’t imagine my life any differently. I love my kids, and I love the bad ass way I brought them into life, confident in my ability to parent by myself. Sure, a little different than most people and a lot different than what I had thought at 15, but it’s still pretty kick-ass. When I meet a man who doesn’t like kids and seems to holds it against me that I have kids, I really do think, ‘Well, that’s a shame because really the mama part of me is the BEST part of me.”

Because my life with kids has been a roller coaster of fun times. We’ve had a few dips here and there–late night puke sessions, yelling across the dinner table, one concussion, and countless time outs–but mostly we have fun. Family fun. Really, really good fun.

Like watching Maddie play her first ever volleyball game (and I am not kidding when I say Horace Grant was in the audience. Because he lives in the area and his daughter goes to the opposing team’s school. But how cool is that? Horace Grant watched my daughter play volleyball!. )

Maddie’s school lost BIG TIME (with Horace Grant watching no less), but Maddie did really well. I think this may be her sport.

Family fun is having my brother-in-law buzz Luke’s hair because I’m tired of paying for haircuts when it grows back so damn fast. Twenty years ago the thought of my 13 year old sister being married with kids to a wonderful man was unthinkable. She didn’t even like boys. Now I can’t imagine Jon not being part of our lives.



(Half-way. Cate blow drying the hair off Luke’s neck)


20 years ago, I would never have thought that hanging out with my mom would ever be fun nor did I think I’d live in a small town. I saw myself city-bound (for a while at least, then it was off to Montana). The jokes on me now because I hang out with my mom all the time and we do have fun and I live in a town so small that it’s almost impossible to go anywhere without running into someone you know. This past week, I took my mom and the kids to our town’s last Friday night concert and we, of course, ran into many friends.

(The concert)

(My mom with Megan and Sadie)

(Jenny and her mom)

(Carolyn and Mark, Garth’s parents)


Twenty years ago, I didn’t think my mom knew I had smoked pot, but apparently she did because she said to Maddie, “Your mom smoked a lot of pot in high school.” I looked at my mom in disbelief not because she knew I smoked pot, but because now, as a parent, what am I supposed to say about my past, the things I did 20 years ago?

I also didn’t think that I would turn into the parent of my mom and scold her for bad manners like talking on her phone constantly: at dinner, at restaurants, at the coffee shop.

(Fun family time at coffee shop, but oh no, what’s that…)

(It’s my mom on her damn phone!)

I remember countless fights about me being on the phone when I was 15 and this was pre-cell phones; actually, I think it was pre-call waiting, so my mom was always yelling at me to get off the phone, and now, dammit, I’m yelling at her to get off the phone. My 15 year old-self cannot even grasp the reality of this.

In the past 20 years I’ve made some amazing new friends and I love how much they love me and my kids.

(Megan and I walked the kids downtown for dinner, but Megan walked Luke on her bike. And now he’s forever in love with her).

(Jenn and my kids)

(A bunch of girlfriends from the early college days came into town to visit Colleen, whom I’ve written about before, and who is still battling cancer. Keep her in your prayers.)

My new friends are amazing, but there’s something about the people who knew you in your youth that make them even more special. Twenty years ago, I lived in south Orange County in a pretty tight neighborhood, and it was then that I met a lot of the friends I still have today. One group in particular, a bunch of boys that all lived down the street from me and literally all next door to each other, taught me a whole hell of a lot. These boys were older, wiser, and much more experienced then me. I was just this skinny, 15 year old girl who so wanted to be as cool as they were. They went to college, and I stayed home and went to high school. They went on fun summer adventures, and I got to hear about them when they came home. But the one thing they did share with me was the love of a band. Two of the neighborhood boys, Drew and Jack, went to Chico State for undergraduate school and came home with tapes of this band, The Mother Hips, who played at their college parties. Soon, regardless of what college we attended (or what high school we were still at), everyone in the neighborhood was listening to these tapes. I’m not even sure if I loved the tape they gave me because I thought the music was so amazing or if it was the love of these boys sharing their music with me, but the band grew on me, and once I went to college, and the band started touring California, I went to every show possible. I think I’ve been to probably 50+ Mother Hips shows.

**Disclaimer: If you’re not a Mother Hips fan, you just may want to skip this entire portion**

They call their music California soul and I can’t think of a better way to describe them. This past weekend, in Chico, they celebrated 20 years together and I went up with my good friend Ryan (also from the old neighborhood) to listen to their concert and reunite with the boys from the old neighborhood.

But first we drove up to Santa Cruz and stayed at another high school friend, Kai’s house, nestled in the middle of the Santa Cruz mountains.

(I love that mountain living)

(Kai and his fiance)

(Kai and Ryan played guitar for hours. I just got to sit and listen. So very nice.)

We left the next morning, early, and headed for Chico. I’ve known Ryan since I was 15 and he’s like a brother to me. We haven’t road tripped in many, many years, but I’ve decided he is the best road trip partner ever. I laughed so hard in the car I almost peed my pants.

(Ryan’s road soda)

(We saw this as we entered Chico and I had to pull over and take a picture for my dad. Go Greenbay!)

We went straight to my good friend Matt’s house, who lives in Chico and has known me for almost 20 years (16!).

And Matt took us to the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company:

(This is the glass that Ryan stole–STOLE!–from the Brewing company by putting it in my purse. I felt like such a mule!)

From there we met up with the Hips’ parade, which sounds totally dorky if you’re not a Mother Hips fan, but oh well. Basically, it was about 150 Hips fans on bikes taking a tour of Chico and hitting up all the spots that the Hips used to frequent when they all lived there. Here’s a great video someone took of Tim and Greg acoustic during the parade. I love that everyone in the crowd is singing along.

We watched Nicki Bluhm (Tim Bluhm’s wife) sing a song on the front porch of their old college house.

She’s an incredible musician herself and it was fun to stop and watch the scene for a bit.

But then we got back in the car and took a short, short hike (it was 105 degrees outside!) to see the beauty that Chico has to offer.

Then we toured the college, and it’s a beautiful campus. Really, just gorgeous.

(A creek runs through the campus. I’m jealous.)

After spending the day wandering all around the town, I feel like Chico is some hidden gem of a place. I mean, it’s kind of in the middle of nowhere, but I loved the town and the people. Chico, I will be returning.

After all this, we finally went down to the show and caught up with some of the boys from my neighborhood.

(Bruce, me, and Ryan. I just saw Bruce last summer in Portland, but I could see him every day. He’s the nicest, most down-to-earth, loving man I’ve ever known.)

(Ryan, Jack, and me. I’ve had a crush on Jack since I was 15. And I still do.)

The show was amazing in so many ways: the original bass player and drummer members came onstage and played, and then came back and for about an hour the old and new(er) bassist and drummer played all together; the crowd was filled with real Hips fans; my neighborhood boys were all there (even if I didn’t get pictures of all of them) . I don’t know how else to say this and I know it sounds cheesy, but there was just so much love in the room.

I didn’t take any pictures or video, but lots of other people did, so here’s some from the show:

I’m going to stop dorking out now, but the weekend was amazing, and I’m so thankful I was able to be there and to see old friends.

The next morning, Matt, Ryan, and I went to breakfast and then it was back on the road again.

(Ryan drove home. The 5 is a lonely stretch of highway, but good company and the Sunday New York Times makes it so much better.)

Ryan and I spoke a lot about the past 20 years during the car ride and where we thought we’d end up compared to where we actually are. We got a little philosophical and talked about what kind of knowledge is necessary in life, expectations, dreams, desires, and the reality of it all. We thought about who we were 20 years ago, me 15 and him 17, and how different those people are. My younger-self was such a brat and know it all. She’s too confident. I really want to slap her upside the head.

In the end, I’m happy with where I am at right now. My life looks a lot different than I thought it would, but it’s also a lot better than any 15 year old imagination could have come up with. The one thing that remains constant, Ryan and I both agreed, is that we were pretty lost at 15 and guess what? We still are.