#100HappyDays: Days 81-90

I’m so close to the end of my happy days challenge. It’s kind of freaking me out. My days are flying by so quickly this fall. Once again, I am grateful for the opportunity to stop, even for a few seconds, to mark the small moments.

#100happydays began as an Instagram exercise in gratitude, a challenge to take a moment to be purposefully thankful for the many happy moments that make up my days.

Because this is an Instagram project, I am limiting myself to something I can photograph. Likewise, I use very few words to describe these images.

81Day 81. New artwork hanging in the upstairs hallway. #myboys

82Day 82: I missed this live this weekend, but I’m so glad Connor has such a good buddy on his corner.

83Day 83: This man. That is all.

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Day 84: Fall sports season. Flag football on one field, soccer on the other. All boys playing.

85Day 85: Always a happy day when the finished magazine arrives on my desk. #Blueprint

86Day 86: Matt had such a great day with his best buddy Angel at the zoo.

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Day 87: A repost from my mom. A few hours of food, tea, Scrabble and old photo albums. Just what I needed on a rainy Saturday.

88Day 88: it’s been a while since the 5 of us were able to sit down to eat together. #grateful

89Day 89: Rocking it old school. At Smeltekop Music for trombone repair. The place hasn’t changed in 20+ years. — at Smeltekop Musical Instrument Repair.

90Day 90: #tbt Proof that my mother has always found vacuuming, not just enjoyable, but maybe even glamorous.

All the images in this post are my own. Please don’t use them as yours.

#100HappyDays: Days 71-80

Another installement of my happy days. These 10 days actually reflect a crazy, chaotic, up and down week in my life so I’m thrilled to still have recogzined a moment of happiness each day.

#100happydays began as an Instagram exercise in gratitude, a challenge to take a moment to be purposefully thankful for the many happy moments that make up my days.

Because this is an Instagram project, I am limiting myself to something I can photograph. Likewise, I use very few words to describe these images.

71Day 71: that’s his face when he contributes to the win with an RBI double — at Baseball Alley.

72Day 72: Still as handsome as ever, just with braces.

73Day 73: at the Berwyn Oktoberfest awaiting #16candles #whyberwyn #myboys

74Day 74: 20 years ago I directed these amazing actresses, and beautiful women, in Mill Fire — still one of the best experiences of my life. So thrilled to reunite tonight.

75Day 75: Pat took the boys to Wrigley for the Cubs vs. Dodgers game. Happy boys. Happy mom.

76Day 76: Pre- bed quiet time with Book 12 of Ranger’s Apprentice. #amreading

 

77

Day 77: Nothing better than watching father help son as he learns about music. #band

78Day 78: At Antico Posto, celebrating with my love.

79Day 79: I loved having Pat and his friends as Naz shadows today. I can’t believe the next school day he spends there will be as a freshman!

80Day 80: Class of 1989. 25th high school reunion. Wow — what a night this turned out to be.

 

All the images in this post are my own. Please don’t use them as yours.

#100HappyDays: Days 61-70

I already feel like I am drawing to the end of my #100HappyDays Challenge. It hasn’t really been a challenge at all as I am now in the habit of stopping to capture a moment of happiness, which is the ultimate challenge. I am truly, consciously, intentionally aware of happiness and I am very thankful.

#100happydays began as an Instagram exercise in gratitude, a challenge to take a moment to be purposefully thankful for the many happy moments that make up my days.

Because this is an Instagram project, I am limiting myself to something I can photograph. Likewise, I use very few words to describe these images.

61Day 61: Watching these two boys cheer on the @nazarethlgp Roadrunners! It’s so great to be able to take them to work with me and get them excited about high school. #GoNaz — at Nazareth Academy.

62Day 62: Sunday evening on the deck with the perfect combo — beer, pretzels & book. Such a great way to spend an hour. #amreading — at Bistro 3513.

63Day 63: Posted by Random House today, this one made me smile.  #booklove #booknerd

64Day 64: boys, books and baseball. One of my favorite combinations. #fallball #amreading— at Baseball Alley.

65Day 65: Cooler weather is fine by us. Boys are still in the yard for some sunset sports. I love this time of year.#brothers #family — at Bistro 3513.

66Day 66: My day started with a beautiful card from a friend. Feeling so lucky & blessed to have her in my life.

67Day 67: A lovely long lunch with my mom and Jane. We toasted my dad and talked & talked & talked. — with Jane St Pierre Murguia and Karen Skinner.

68Day 68: Buona means good. Sunday lunch with my guys at one of our favorite spots. — at Buona Beef.

69Day 69: Some days it’s the smallest thing. By luck of the draw, I get a  parking spot until the end of October.

70Day 70: The saxophone has arrived. Matty has joined the band. — at Bistro 3513.

How about you? How do you practice gratitude?

All the images in this post are my own. Please don’t use them as yours.

#100HappyDays: Days 51-60

I can’t believe how quickly the past 10 happy days have flown by. Now that I am into the second half of this challenge, I’ve found it’s become a part of my daily routine. I am truly, consciously, intentionally aware of happiness and I am very thankful.

#100happydays began as an Instagram exercise in gratitude, a challenge to take a moment to be purposefully thankful for the many happy moments that make up my days.

Because this is an Instagram project, I am limiting myself to something I can photograph. Likewise, I use very few words to describe these images.

51Day 51: Fall baseball, game 1 for Patrick. Playing on the big field. That’s him up to bat for the first time. I’m behind the iPhone with a lump in my throat. Where did the time go? — at Baseball Alley.

52Day 52: Admiring the sculpture outside the Berwyn Library with Connor. I was just going to take a pic of the sculpture but Connor insisted on getting it. It’s way better this way. #reading #booklove #publicart

53Day 53: out to dinner at Paisan’s Pizza. Ordered the sampler platter in honor of Aunt Therese. A bit of an inside family joke, but that’s OK.

54Day 54: Out to lunch at Lalo’s with great women and great margaritas. What could be better? Maybe the fact that one friend I’ve had for 20 years and one was brand new.

55Day 55: Pat & I celebrating the long-awaited marriage of our friends Tim & Tom. One of the most heartfelt and meaningful ceremonies I’ve ever witnessed. #love —  at St. Chrysostom’s Episcopal Church in Chicago.

56Day 56: Final tomato harvest + good Italian bread. Simply add butter, kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Thanks for breakfast Pat.

 

57Day 57:  A quiet living room and a free hour to read. What a delightful surprise. #amreading

58Day 58: The time a high school student baked cupcakes for our entire floor. Yum. I never fail to be impressed by the generosity of the students at my alma mater.
59Day 59: #tbt stolen from my mom. I want to focus on the cake (which was awesome) and the wallpaper (which still gives me nightmares) but I’m too freaked out about seeing Matty’s face so clearly in this pic.
60Day 60: I know it’s another throwback, but I forgot I had almost the whole Murguia clan in this photo from my wedding. #family

 

 

 

How about you? How do you practice gratitude?

All the images in this post are my own. Please don’t use them as yours.

#100HappyDays: Days 41-50

Feeling proud and slightly amazed that I’m still going strong in my personal challenge to capture a moment of happiness each day! It’s definitely getting harder with our school/work/sports schedules but I am determined.

#100happydays began as an Instagram exercise in gratitude, a challenge to take a moment to be purposefully thankful for the many happy moments that make up my days.

Because this is an Instagram project, I am limiting myself to something I can photograph. Likewise, I use very few words to describe these images. I read that many people who started this project gave up somewhere in the 20s, so I’m feeling pretty happy that I’m still going strong.

41Day 41: Lunch date with Matthew.  We walked to the burrito stand around the corner and then decided to stay and eat there. I am a lucky mom.

42Day 42: Brothers at rest. Must be a break in the soccer/baseball/basketball game. This is my view from my kitchen window right now.

43Day 43: Because on a crazy, chaotic day I can still count on finding random selfies in my photo stream. What a goofball.

 

44Day 44: Very happy to join my Nazareth Academy colleagues in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. My ice bucket is, of course, dedicated to my father. Video on Facebook.

45Day 45: These two closed the pool last night! They’re finishing summer off in style.

46Day 46: Former co-workers, forever friends. Happy to spend time with my favorite Johnstons, Andy and Graham at their annual garden party. #wjinc 

47Day 47: It’s been a long, hard week, but I get to go home to these gorgeous men.

48Day 48: #Selfie happiness while hanging out @ Oakbrook Mall with my guys on a rainy day. So lucky they’ll still take part in my pics.

49Day 49: Ending the summer the same way we started. Swimming at Berwyn Rec followed by Tastee-Freez swirl cones with my boys.

50Day 50: it came too fast, but reality has officially set in. First day of school – 8th, 7th & 4th.

 

 

 

How about you? How do you practice gratitude?

All the images in this post are my own. Please don’t use them as yours.

#100HappyDays: Days 31-40

#100happydays began as an Instagram exercise in gratitude, a challenge to take a moment to be purposefully thankful for the many happy moments that make up my days.

Because this is an Instagram project, I am limiting myself to something I can photograph. Likewise, I use very few words to describe these images. I read that many people who started this project gave up somewhere in the 20s, so I’m feeling pretty happy that I’m still going strong.

As summer winds down and the school year begins, I know this challenge will get even more difficult. Busy schedules, less down time will mean I have to dig deep, but I am determined.

31Day 31: Time to play! #hangman Nothing beats game time on the deck.

32Day 32: I really do love #backtoschool shopping. The boys were great sports @target

33Day 33: Despite a gas main break ruining our zoo plans, we’re making the most of my last Friday off. — at La Cabanita.

34Day 34: Hanging out @brookfieldzoo with these guys on a beautiful Saturday morning. Nothing better. — at Brookfield Zoo.

35Day 35: Mini golf yesterday at Navy Pier. Still laughing at the ridiculous fun.

36Day 36: The day almost got away from me, but luckily I have these two smiling faces on my phone. I’m so lucky to be sandwiched between two generations whom I love & who love me. — with Karen Skinner.

37Day 37: Oh happy day that brought my beautiful cousin Lauren to Chicago and to my house for a long overdue visit. Love this young woman! — with Lauren Arnieri.

38Day 38: Because it makes me happy that while I read the biography, my son reads one of the many books inspired by Ripley.

39Day 39: I was too busy enjoying these lovely cocktails with friends to post my happy moment last night, but I was aware of the moment — good friends together to celebrate good news.

 40Day 40: Nothing says happiness like ice cream. TGIF — at Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor.

 

 

 

How about you? How do you practice gratitude?

All the images in this post are my own. Please don’t use them as yours.

#100HappyDays: Days 21-30

#100happydays began as an Instagram exercise in gratitude, a challenge to take a moment to be purposefully thankful for the many happy moments that make up my days.

Because this is an Instagram project, I am limiting myself to something I can photograph. Likewise, I use very few words to describe these images. I read that many people who started this project gave up somewhere in the 20s, so I’m feeling pretty happy that I’m still going strong.

21Day 21: S’mores on the deck last night with loved ones.

22Day 22: Happy to be reminded of my theater days and all the wonderful, talented, hilarious people I’ve known. #shrubtown #circletheatre

23Day 23: Just being surrounded by so many books makes me happy. @TheBookTableOP — at The Book Table

 

24Day 24: On my deck at 5:15. Ahhh.#perfect

25Day 25: Making school uniform shopping a little more fun. #icecream

26Day 26: So blessed to have wonderful ladies on my life. This is my gorgeous niece @meghawk2 — at Palmer House.

 

27Day 27: I love that our weekend breakfast options include both fresh tortillas from Masa Uno and bakery from Vesecky’s #whyberwyn

28Day 28: Reading @nytimesbooks. Now an even bigger fan of @AmyBloomBooks. The sunshine & Fiore bakery definitely don’t hurt either.

Day 29: Connor’s been working on his flips off the diving board. Yesterday he really got full rotation. (This was an Instagram video, which I’m having trouble linking to my blog – sorry.)
30Day 30: Always happy to get a fresh pedi, but happier for quality time with Bethanny.

 

 

 

How about you? How do you practice gratitude?

All the images in this post are my own. Please don’t use them as yours.

#100happydays: Days 11-20

#100happydays began as an Instagram exercise in gratitude, a challenge to take a moment to be purposefully thankful for the many happy moments that make up my days.

Because this is an Instagram project, I am limiting myself to something I can photograph. Likewise, I use very few words to describe these images. Days 11-20 mostly fell during my family’s annual vacation at Beachwalk Resort.  I probably could have posted 100 happy moments for each day of our vacation, but here is what I chose.

11Day 11: Fresh haircuts for these handsome boys.

12Day 12: Officially in my happy place.#beachwalk #terrapinstation

13Day 13: He caught one! #fishing #beachwalk #lakekai

 

 

14Day 14: Brothers #topdog #beachwalk

15Day 15: 2 Pats, a sunset, a football & Lake Michigan. Perfect!

16Day 16: So great to have a couple of days with Mima. #beachwalk

 

 

17Day 17. A chill in the air won’t stop @matty1217 #pool #beachwalk

18Day 18: Blueberry picking at Billy Boy’s. #tradition — at Billy Boy’s Blueberry Farm.

19Day 19: A week of happy days and wonderful memories with these 3 angels. Bye-bye Beachwalk.

 

 

20Day 20: Celebrating family and the first wedding anniversary of @chrisuphues and @jenkoehl

 

 

How about you? How do you practice gratitude?

All the images in this post are my own. Please don’t use them as yours.

Honored and Thankful: Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Since my return to blogging is only a month old, I was shocked and humbled when my new fried Yvo at It’s All About Books nominated alenaslife for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. While the award doesn’t come with a cash prize or statue, it brings me much joy to know that someone is reading and appreciating my contribution to blogging. I am so very thankful to Yvo, not only for nominating me, but for introducing me to so many other great blogs in her post. Please check out her post!

very-inspiring-blog-award

Here are the rules for this blogger award:

1. Thank and link the amazing person who nominated you.

2. List the rules and display the award.

3. Share seven facts about yourself.

4. Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.

5. Optional: Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

Seven random facts about me:

1. My very first real job was at my local library. How great is that? I was 15 and 3 times a week I was paid to be surrounded by books! I met great people, learned how to deal with “the public” and discovered all sorts of new titles — it was really the best job in the world.

2. I’m not an animal person. This is an important thing to get off my chest because most of the people I love in this world either have pets or want pets. I must be missing a certain gene because I don’t and I never have (and probably never will) want a pet. The best I could do for my kids was a box turtle, appropriately named “Boxy.”

3. I hate coconut.

4. My television guilty pleasures developed in the 1990s. I can easily spend a day with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gilmore Girls or America’s Next Top Model. Buffy is  brilliantly written with characters I adore. The Gilmores’ mother-daughter dynamic(s) grabbed me and never let go and ANTM is just my favorite trash-TV, especially the early seasons.  I can do without the gimmicks of the later stuff.

5. I used to be the co-Artistic Director of a professional theater company. This very long chapter of my life doesn’t often make it into my blogging because when I walked away I never turned back; but theater and especially the people with whom I worked were very influential on who I am. I’ve recently had opportunities to reconnect with some of those people and feel grateful for that experience.

6. If I had to choose only one book genre to read (and really, that would stink), I would go with magical realism. I know it’s not for everyone but Toni Morrison, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Aimee Bender and Erin Morgenstern rock my world.

7. I am the only female in my household of husband and sons. Many people offer sympathy at this fact, but I make the most of it. I am the undisputed Queen.

And I’m nominating: Apologies if I am nominating bloggers for a second (or third) time, but in a few short weeks, I’ve come to look forward to posts from so many of you, whether for quality book reviews, thoughtful reflections or bits of humor to brighten my day. In no particular order:

Between the Lines: A very new blog, Yvonne is blogging her way through Goodreads’ 100 Books to Read Before You Die list. Along the way she’s posting all things literary. Lovely.

746 Books: Cathy is doing the unthinkable. She is determined to read only the 746 books that were on her to-read when she began her blog. I can’t even contemplate not adding books, but I am excited to follow and encourage her progress.

Insanity of Motherhood: In describing her own blog, Nate writes, “Insane mom of three boys, wife, educator, and all around nice gal in the middle of a midlife something.” I think perhaps I have found my soul-mate (expect for the dog).

Taking on a World of Words: Sam writes detailed, thoughtful and engaging posts on books, authors and book club. We have some of those in common, but I’ve found myself inspired to read and write better in reading this blog.

My Blog is My Boyfriend: Holly is super smart and super sassy! Her posts are honest and refreshing a real, always a bright spot in my reader.

Friendly Bookworm: Really it’s the blog name that invited me in, but I can count on honest opinions about a very diverse reading list, including short stories, which is a rarity.

A Fragile Roar: I like Jenny’s reading lists. I like the way she writes about books. Plus I love her blog’s name.

The Girl Who Thinks an Awful Lot: She may describe her mind as “obnoxious” but I am captivated by her posts, the strong quality of the writing and the wisdom she shares. I’ve enjoyed our interactions so far.

The Book Musings: I share a similar taste in books with Melinda, so I really appreciate her thoughtful reviews and dedication to reading.

Bookshelf Fantasies: Lisa and I share a love of book quotes which is what originally drew me to her blog. Then I discovered we also share a love of writing and conversing about good books.

Confessions of a Working Mum: It’s always great to see a post from Ashley and know that other women are out there seeking balance, sharing stories and laughing at ourselves on occasion.

e-Tinkerbell’s Blog: The name can be deceiving because Stefania’s blog is really sophisticated and smart. More “literature” than “books.”

Worn Pages and Ink: Great reviews and Jaaron is always introducing me to new titles or books I hadn’t previously considered.

Rosemary and Reading Glasses: Carolyn not only writes outstanding book reviews, she posts author interviews which take me deeper into the minds of authors I love. Also, we share a love of The West Wing.

Wise Sass: Stef provides emotional honesty in spades. She reminds me that it’s OK to be vulnerable in my writing. She makes me think.

Thank you to all of the above, and so many more, who inspire me each day.

Notes from Ann Patchett: Planning Ahead

In case you don’t yet know me well, I LOVE Ann Patchett. I’ve read all of her books, reviewed all her books, hand-pressed copies into people’s hands and generally swooned over her very being.

My husband and I have talked about a trip to Nashville and truly, my primary reason for wanting to go is the chance to visit Parnassus Books. Whether or not Ann is there, I want to step into her space and financially support her endeavor.

Anyway, that’s all an introduction into why I’m sharing Ann’s latest post on the Bookstore’s blog, Musing, which, by the way, I also follow.

Ann writes about the books that excite her, new releases, author interactions — you know, all the great stuff I’d hear if I were her real-life friend and not just a cyber-groupie.

In Notes from Ann: Planning Ahead, Ann not only gets me excited about some fall releases but reveals that she and I share an intense love for Colum McCann’s novel, Let the Great World Spin. (Swoon again.)

Notes from Ann: Planning Ahead