Writing about Life Abroad with Max…

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Hey my friends.  Here’s a link to the article that I wrote about my child’s food allergies.  The Mighty picked it up (I write about Max’s allergies at www.allergymax.org).

I hope you’ll enjoy the read.  Click here to access it:  https://themighty.com/2017/02/managing-child-food-allergies-abroad/

I’m super stoked I made it that far…Remember to Like and Share it with your friends, too!  Thank you so much.

XO from here to there,

B

 

 

When your 10-yr-old daughter is surrounded by machine guns and stands her ground…

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We went through two metal detectors before we could enter the areas of the Western Wall (under Jewish control) and then the Temple Mount (under Muslim control) in Israel.  It wasn’t too bad—except we forgot we had a knife for making sandwiches.  Big oops.  Gracious security warded off angry men security and allowed us to keep our sandwich making materials—including the knife.

As soon as we entered the Temple Mount, bought by King David to build the Temple upon thousands of years ago, I was accosted.  I had read it was conservative, so I wore a dress and scarf and tights and boots for the day. Apparently if you can see the boots and the dress, you are a harlot.  Forget the fact that all of the other touring women are in trendy skinny  bun-hugging jeans…my boot showing dress was enough to stop the entire Mount.

So, there I was, on my way to becoming a harlot on the Mount…getting accosted for my boots showing, having to cover and hobble the rest of the tour while having a scarf tied around my boots.

Can you say troublesome?  I can.

But I entered the Temple Mount area and, therefore, chose to abide respectfully by the rules brought to us by the machine-gun wielding security there.


We toured the area and began our ascent to leave.  That is when it happened.

What you need to know is that the Mount is only open 2 different hours throughout the day because it is the Muslim holy ground and has extremely strict rules.  So, as the hour was ending when we needed to leave, we were doing just that.  Leaving.

On our way out, however, one young gentleman asked my 10-year-old to take his photo.  She obliged politely and waited for him to get in position when two machine-gun wielding men rushed her and the 2nd tourist.  A lot of loud yelling took place.  I am helpless mom on the other side of chaos while my 10-year-old and the random tourist are surrounded by guns.

A few moments pass, the security move, Adelyne takes the photo, the random tourist is hauled off with the machine guns, and we grab Adelyne and practically run out into the nearest hallway, where Rich is then given the task to get rid of the world’s worst tour guide—oh the gut-wrenching laughter stories I’ll tell later about him—and we sit for Turkish coffee and delights in a darkened hallway surrounded by non-machine gun wielding men and telling Adelyne how brave she is to stand her ground…

Even amongst the chaos of adventure!

Vanity will get you one eyebrow—less

Yes.  Most of my blog posting comes with utter truths of utter failures.

This one comes to you with the proclamation that I am also vain.

And that got me one eyebrow.

You know when you age?  Like, you know, are no longer 18.

It’s like chin hair pops up.  And out.

And, like, your baby belly never goes away.  But my daughter told me that my belly is squishy and comfy.  That makes it all alright, right?!

Do you remember a recent post I wrote about the horrifying “wax your mustache, madam?” ???????!!!!!!!

If you don’t, please click here.  It did not entertain me in the least (smile and wink).

Anyhow—I’m going to one up that cosmetician and post something FAR MORE HORRIFYING than mustache waxing…

And it all comes back to my eyebrows!

I say “back to” my eyebrows—because these eyebrows are ever so famous on this here blog…

If you don’t know the henna story, click here!

But let’s not dawdle on the past—it’s time I bring you present day…

To my one eyebrow.

So, I was looking in the mirror the other day.

When your children grow just old enough to let you actually shower and look in the mirror, that’s when you realize that you’re not only tired—but also…

(Insert My Big Fat Greek Wedding voice here)

“Getting old.”

Like, seriously, my eyebrows were crazy.

And I am seeing things.

Like going a bit senile.

I could SWEAR I saw some white hair.  I would like to say shiny silver…but my hair seems to be skipping that blending stage and heading for Santa Claus white.

And they were in the tip top portion of my forehead and on my eyebrows.

And they were sticking out…Like straight out.

I looked like I was heading towards the portrait of Groucho Marx, except living in Poland.  And being a woman.  And not being born in 1890—although my 10-year-old probably does think I was born WAY BACK THEN.

That is when brilliance struck me.  I didn’t want to waste precious and painful time plucking eyebrows—I would just use this super easy cosmetic razor and give them a little control zip.

So I dug it out and zipped…

That’s when I heard it.  It wasn’t the gentle hum of the razor guard.  It was the vicious roar of electrifying laughter shouting, “I’m going to get you eyebrows…zip.  Zip!”

And sure enough the razor won.  I lost.

An eyebrow, that is.

And so—I painted on eyebrows for weeks with the hilarious, tears rolling down your face, exclamations from my daughter—“Why are your eyebrows BLUE today???!!!”

I’ll tell you why, smart girl…because I never learned how to paint on eyebrows.

Or apparently groom at all…

Here’s to you and all of your crazy!  I’m here to make you feel normal and victorious each and every day!

***

And, go ahead…make your friend’s day.  Like and share.  My eyebrow can handle it!

Kidnapping a Cat is a Gift from God???

Seriously.  My decade daughter kills me.  She is hilarious.  And always full of so much hope!

She was out exploring the other day.  We live in a village and they can still do things like take off into the wilds on their bikes and chase their dreams.  Get in a little trouble.  And seek out adventures.

So that is exactly what she and her BFF were doing…Out on bikes, exploring farmlands, soaring past forests, playing at the school playground, and then stopping at the local soda shop for a cold drink.

It’s like a storybook.

And she is living it.

As everyone knows—storybooks also have happy endings.

Unless you write Adelyne’s (my decade daughter).

Here’s what happened…

Ring-ring.

My phone rang.

“Hi, Adelyne!”  (I obviously know what number she has).

“Hi, Momma!”  And then she continues.  By the mere tone in her voice, I definitely know Something.Is.Up!

“Momma!  We are at the noclegi and this itty bitty cat came up to us.  It’s about 5 weeks old, and it’s so skinny and it needs help!”

“Adelyne!  Stop touching the cat.  Does it have bugs all over it?  Fleas?”

Believe me…I have dealt with 3 dogs that had fleas.  It was not something I wanted my daughter coming home with.

“No, Momma…It doesn’t have fleas. It’s so sweet and all alone.  It needs our help!  Please, Momma!  Can I bring it home?!”

“Adelyne, we are NOT going to keep a cat…”

“Momma, we don’t have to keep it.  I can take care of it while making Lost Kitten posters, hanging them up everywhere…”

I am SUCH a sucker for ALL animals.

“Okay, Adelyne…but we are making posters for it and finding it a home.”

“Okay, Momma.”

Sure enough, before long, the girls show up with a kitten in their arms.

Except it wasn’t a kitten.

It was a full-grown cat.

Beautiful.

Black.

Sleek.

Fat.

And just cuddled up in their arms—completely tame.  Not a wild cat.

And purring.

“See, Mom?!  See the kitten?!”

I stare.

Blankly.

“Where’s the kitten?”

“This is it!”

“Adelyne—that’s not a kitten!  That’s a cat,” I begin stroking its head.

Adelyne and her BFF looking quizzically at the kitten/cat, “But see how skinny it is, Momma?!”

I poke at the belly of the cat and my finger bounces back.  Yep.  Plenty of fat.

“Adelyne, that cat is not skinny.  It’s clean.  It’s fat.  And it is super friendly.  This is probably some poor girl’s cat.  She’s probably at home right now wondering where her precious family pet went.”

And to exaggerate my point, I emphasized, “She’s probably CRYING!”

The two “decade” girls look at each other with WIDE eyes—astonished that their rescue is NOT a rescue but a kidnapping, and then they say,

“But we thought this cat was a gift from God!”

I burst out laughing…

A gift from God?

A kidnapped black cat.

Yes.  This is my life.

Needless to say, they walked the cat back towards the soda shack (noclegi) when I got another phone call, “Mom! Mom!”

“Yes…” I say wondering, “WHAT IN THE WORLD IS NEXT?!”

“The cat jumped out of our arms and climbed a TREE and now the branch is breaking!”

“Adelyne, YOU ARE NOT TO CLIMB THE TREE TO GET THE CAT!”

“But the branch is BREAKING!”

“ADELYNE MARGUERITE…”

Everyone knows it is NOT a good thing when your momma uses TWO NAMES.

“Um, yes, Momma?”

“A cat that can climb up—can climb down.  Get your bike (which they had to stash somewhere so that they could bring the kidnapped cat home) and come home.”

“But the poor cat…”

“Will survive!”  I finish.

A gift from God?

A kidnapped black cat.

From a local soda shop.

I am dying, my friends.

But aren’t we ALL like that sometimes—hopeful for something that crosses our paths, sometimes distorting the truth of what we think we see?

I know I am.

Therefore, I will end with this great reminder,

“Keep our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith…”  Hebrews 12:2

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When You Don’t Want Your Children To Grow Up

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“Now, Maxie?” Josephine shouted.

“Not yet, GoGo!” Max responded.

They were sitting on two little roller coasters that you push with your feet, waiting one for the other to go down the little slope.

And, because her big hero brother said “Not yet” she waited and said, “Okay, Maxie…”

Then he would count, “One, two, three, GO!”

Their chubby little feet would paddle the ground and they would begin the slight decline down the coaster to soar onto the open floor.

Smiles and joy and squeals accompanying their little rides.

Then one would shout, without hesitation, “Let’s do it again!”

And off they’d push their cars to the top to begin again.

Friends—my two Littles are utterly exhausting.  I’m like super tired.  And they fight.  And they roll on the ground.  And they don’t like their food to touch—or when I cut their toast the wrong way.

My eyes are held open by VERY strong coffee…

But it’s ALL so worth it.

And my stomach is already nostalgic for the future loss of my Littles.

My decade daughter, as she calls herself, was once my Little…and I enjoyed every minute of it (let’s not relish in her own toddler tantrums that also split my hairs 😉 )…

She, in all of her innocent wonder, was my sunshine on any cloudy day.  And, believe me, in Poland there are a LOT of cloudy days.

Now she’s the epitome of beauty and grace.  She is tall and slender and lovely with a touch of awkward.  And growing.  She will, without any doubt in my mind, be a beautiful, successful, creative, and compassionate young lady—I already see that in her.

But it does not mean I don’t miss my Sweet Adelyne that used to skate on flour and make tea parties for her daddy with all of her dollies.

She has phased into young lady—that, very thankfully, still likes to occasionally play dolls, too!

And as my little miracle approaches his fourth birthday, I think.  No, I know that I am already missing him.

My toddler, naked bottom Max—without a care in the world.

Can I squish him into Little-ness forever?

Probably not—but I capture every moment of each of our days—the good and bad—on the reel of my on-going memory maker—the core of my heart…because I know that, as they grow, I will enjoy each new phase—but it will not mean that I will not miss the last one.

Josephine asked Maxie if he was ready—and he said “Not yet.”

Maxie—I am not ready, yet, either.

Please don’t grow.

But just like they paddled their feet and took off, I know what fate awaits me…

Their wild ride.

***

Photo credit:  Inga Rurek

The Original Michelangelo David Versus MY DAVID!

Look, I completely recommend seeing the original David.  There is absolutely nothing like it in the world.

Here is what you need to know:

It is located at the university—who knows where?  On some side street with no line, whatsoever, to get in.  And you will get very lost trying to walk to it.  But you can make it (we did!).  And it was worth every wrong turn.

And, as utterly amazing the sculpture is, I am not quite sure that it is as well mastered or divine as my very own David—my David that appeared out of nowhere to me yesterday while I was taking one of only TWO potty breaks that I actually had from the entire day.  Seriously, folks…one of two!

And here my David comes sauntering in (because of course I MUST take my potty breaks with the door open since I have two toddlers at home), completely naked.  (He can go from dressed to naked in about 3 seconds flat) And full of becoming his very own masterpiece.  Because, of course, as ALL LIFE WITH TODDLERS HAS IT, he was coloring with markers (washable, don’t worry), while I was finally sitting on the porcelain throne for ONLY the second time for the entire day.

My DAVID!  My Masterpiece!

And, I must admit, as divine as I believe the original Michelangelo to be, I think my David may be just as super awesome!

So, of course, after I got off the potty—you know—time’s up for dear ol’ mom, I decided to do my own photoshoot taking similar pictures like I took of the original David in Florence.

Except this David is a Brooke and Richard Masterpiece of God, who battled his own Giant (not Goliath but yet his Goliath of impending death), and now resides not at  Galleria dell’Accademia in Italy but in #villagelife Poland.

You scroll through the photos and decide which David is the greater masterpiece (and, if you choose the original, perhaps don’t tell this momma).

Enjoy!

Let’s begin with the right hand of David that is holding the stone that is used to defeat the Giant Goliath:

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And now the marker that is held in the right hand of my very own David used to defeat the sanity of mom (notice how it is even a homemade Crayola marker):

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Next up!  The torso of the original David and his glance and piercing eyes, lightly holding the sling that was used to fight Goliath casually slung over his left shoulder:

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And now my Masterpiece David, with his young and youthful toddler belly body (full of like 5 bowls of homemade chicken noodle soup) and his left arm up—holding nothing but air (just because I told him to).  Notice my masterpiece is even glancing off to the left:

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Lastly, or at least what I will display on my page, the feet of Michelangelo’s David.  Seriously.  This young sculptor was truly an amazing artist, as the feet were even carved to perfection (out of marble):

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But, as perfectly as they are carved out of marble, I still think that I find my Masterpiece to be just as perfectly carved.  Here are his feet:

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And, of course, while I am sitting at the table type-typing this away, two of my greatest Masterpieces given to me by God, are mere feet away, at the window, creating a cherry-tree robot and a meow-meow (in their vivid imaginations, of course) on what was just moments ago very clean windows.

But, hey!  Who needs windows when I have walking, living, talking, breathing, statue Masterpieces to fill my home?

Not me!

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.  Psalm 139:14

 

#sisterchicks and what we learned traveling through Italy!

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“Prego, Madam!  What do you want?  Why do you knock on the door???  IT IS CLOSED!”

An angry Italian woman yelled at my sister as we peered through the only money exchange in site.

Rule number 1:

Italy takes naps…And don’t mess with them.

***

“Brooke, what are you looking at?  That man over there???”

“Yes!” I answered.  

Holy cow, ladies.  Italy is like the land of red carpet.  George Clooney has nothing on these cobble-stone walkers!

Needless to say, cameras come out—click, click, click!

Rule number two:

Be prepared for MANY Italian masterpieces—and not all of them are centuries old or made of marble.

***

“Brooke, is this the water taxi we take back?”  

I look at the scrolling monitor, the platform, the time—and, being the European live-r, answer with confidence, “YES!  It is.  Run!”

We jump on the rocking water taxi in just enough time to be shoved, trampled, and smothered before the chain goes on and the boat pushes off…Our day in Venice is over, and all we have to do now is find the RIGHT bus off of the island and back to our hotel.

What should have been a 15 minute boat ride, however, later turned into a full-circle 1-hour water taxi ride where I REFUSED to ask for directions, because, you know, I KNOW how to live in Europe.

When we came to our original take-off platform, I swallowed my very big pride and asked the woman manning the boat if and when we would get off on our platform—

She chuckled, told us to jump off, and run to the next platform…

Where we then had no money nor tickets, ducked under the railing and hoped beyond measure that the next boat would take us home.

Well—relatively home since we still had a bus and walk in front of us.

It did—and we even ended the night with homemade spaghetti to boot.

Not bad for my ego, eh?

Rule number 3:

Don’t EVER go with Brooke when it comes to directions

***

I need to sanitize my entire body!

My sister-in-law proclaimed after our lively, full, smell-ful bus ride to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, where I—ONCE AGAIN—put us on the wrong public transportation.  A one-hour tour around the extremely lovely city of Pisa with a girlfriend nearby manning the GPS saying, “Wait, we should be at the Leaning Tower in 7 minutes…” The bus proceeds to turn left…”No, wait…now 11 minutes!”  The bus turns right “No, now 15 minutes…”

Yes.  We took a loop bus around the city and didn’t see a scant drop of the Leaning Tower until we arrived BACK at the train station and decided to take a taxi from there.

Which took approximately 4 minutes to the Leaning Tower and only cost $12 Euro for 6 of us.

BUT…we did get to see the otherwise lovely city of PISA—trampled by bus-goers and smothered by no ventilation and holding on for dear, careening life as the bus driver drove like a cowboy.

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Rule number 4:

Remember Rule #3!

***

Should we go see the original Masterpiece David or are we okay with the copy????  We all kind-of wondered…

But, HEY…In Florence, so close to a Michelangelo Masterpiece, we decided we better put on our walking shoes and try to make a way…

BEST DECISION EVER!

And, along the way, we got distracted by lovely shopping, open marketplaces, amazing architecture, and couple Dutch college kids that proceeded to point us in the WAY WRONG direction to the David.  Thankfully, we asked a few other joggers for a second opinion…

Where we made it.

I was in awe.

From his feet to his piercing eyes—Michelangelo’s David was probably one of the most magnificent man-made creations I have ever seen.  And I have lived in Europe a long time, have seen beautiful cathedrals and divine paintings.  I have even dined next to original Monet’s …

Upon leaving the university which houses the David, I bought my parents an awesome Florence reconstructed book and what I thought was the most decent (not showing all body parts of David) bookmark…

Upon my sister returning home and giving my parents the gifts, her 11-year-old son flips the bookmark over where David is fully revealed and proclaims, “WELL!  That is highly inappropriate!”

Hahahahahaha!

Gotta love kids!

Which brings me to my final rule of this #sisterchicksposting…

Rule number 5:

See the David…even in all his glory!  It’s a must.  From the gentle way that David is holding the stone in his right hand, to the way the sling is draped over his back…

From the way his feet lead to his legs and the muscles of youthful strength are perfectly carved …

To the way that his eyes are glancing to the left…

To know that a young 26-year-old man carved this masterpiece out of ONE piece of marble…centuries ago in the days when today’s technology did not exist.

SEE THE DAVID!

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And, spend way more time in Florence than we did.  It is worth every single drop of your time and days!

***

Well, we #sisterchicks finished our trip strong (the luggage at the cheap airport I’ll address another day)…

And we had a blast.

I can’t wait until these #sisterchicks abandon their husbands and children again where we will then head to ROME!

OR THE WORLD!

Because traveling with #sisterchicks is well worth every drop of time and energy.

Just remember to never follow my directions!