#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

 

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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.

#100happydays: Days 1-10

#100happydays began as an Instagram exercise in gratitude. I consider myself a pretty happy woman, but am guilty of getting caught up in the annoying realities of daily life – my kids are fighting, my house is a mess, my job is stressful, etc. And, if motherhood has taught me anything, it’s that gratitude, like patience, must be practiced daily. I welcomed the 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, my challenge each day is to not just think of something, someone, some lofty quote, that makes me happy, but to think of something I can photograph. I can have a moment of thankfulness for a great phone conversation with my mom, but it doesn’t make a compelling Instagram photo. Likewise, I use very few words to describe these images. As I suspected in compiling them for this round-up, the image alone is enough to bring a smile to my face.

1Day 1: Final baseball game for the 2014 season. (For a better understanding of why the final game is the one that kicked off 100happydays, please read my post about Teaching Failure.)

2Day 2: Night Swim at the Berwyn Rec Pool. Uncrowded and awesome.

3Day 3. Golden beets from our garden, roasted in the oven. Simple salt and pepper. Thanks to my husband, the gardener.

4Day 4: Our latest library haul. Books make me happy.

5Day 5: Backyard baseball. No fees, technology or travel. Just brothers in the sun.

6Day 6: Connor’s love for horses always makes me smile. Stopped for a visit at Brookfield Zoo, Summer Nights.

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Day 7: Sunday morning bike ride with my husband.

8Day 8: Bringing my boys to work this week for Discovery Camp at Naz.

9Day 9: Fun plans for these items! Girls Night Out.

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Day 10: Making new friends while building a solar oven. #discoverycamp

 

How about you? How do you practice gratitude?

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

Teaching Failure

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” ―  Maya Angelou

I never set out to teach my sons to be failures. Yes, it’s a part of life and we learn from our failures, but come on…don’t we all hope that the successes will outweigh the failures? I do. And, luckily for me, my sons’ failures have been manageably few and far between.

But not this year. Not in youth sports. In 2014, throughout Basketball and Baseball seasons, we’ve been cheering on the underdogs, hearing a lot of “good try” from the stands, and returning home with dejected players in the back seat.

And I am here to tell you, it sucks.

My boys want to win as much as anyone else, work really hard at whatever sport they’re currently playing and show up ready to give 100%. These are all fine qualities in young men, but when they lead to losing results it presents a problem. Why is the hard work not paying off? If you study, practice, try…you should achieve success, right?

I don’t have the answers.

Let me be clear. I’m not talking about a loss here and there. My oldest son’s basketball team played the entire season without a single victory. My youngest’s travel baseball team managed only two wins this summer.

Game after game, day after day, late night after late night, I was left with nothing but platitudes about effort to offer my children. I got tired and repeating them and they sure got tired of hearing them. Yes, they were trying hard and their individual skills were improving, but they were frustrated and frankly, embarrassed.

Even in “recreational” sports, kids keep score. They no who the losers are. Wining matters to kids, mine included. We’re well past the “everybody’s a winner” just for playing leagues.

Still, ever the optimist, I tried a million different ways to boost morale. Pep talks, realistic expectations, even jokes, all stop working after a while. As Pat pointed out to me, he got sick of hearing that he had a good game, “Mom, what does it matter if we can’t ever win?”

That was a heartbreaking moment, but not nearly as bad as the few times they took personal responsibility for tough losses, blaming themselves for a shot missed or base runner walked-in. (This is not the kind of “personal responsibility” character education I planned.) No words of reason or explanations of team responsibility could assuage their guilt when they truly believed the team could have won “if only.”

I was thrown back to my own childhood, always one of the last ones picked for team sports, struggling with the Presidential Fitness Test, choosing to cheer from the sidelines instead of participating so that I wouldn’t fail in front of my peers. My sons were living my junior high nightmares. I was treading very close to that “living out our dreams through our children” line I vowed never to cross.

I learned to back off a bit. They know I have their backs. I’m there to cheer them on. I know I need to give them more personal space to work through their frustration as they learn to keep it in check.

By the time each season was over, we felt battered and bruised as a family. But they were not broken. It’s not what I would have wished for, but I have witnessed how my sons come out from the other side of failure. I’ve seen them stand by their teammates, never-say-quit and continue to shake hands with their opponents no matter the outcome. Maybe they’re not completely gracious in defeat, but I’m OK with that.  I’m ready to help them pick themselves up and rise again.

Team sports are finally (mercifully) over and we have a couple of months off before the cycle starts all over again with soccer and fall baseball. Meanwhile, we’re still Cubs fans, so lessons in failure continue to abound.

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