Bucket List? Become a Musher!

Mushing Nungessers

Okay.  So, technically, I had to look up the word Musher.  And really figure out what it meant.  I mean, we went dog sledding.  That one is obvious.  Musher.  I mean, I am a mommy, I am a “Professional Musher” of mashed potatoes, right?  That sounds like a musher.  You know, like smashing a lot of potatoes so they are mushy and buttery and delicious.

Or I love my children so much my daughter sighs, rolls her eyes, and proclaims, “Oh, Mommy, you are SO MUSHY!”  Making me a Musher Mommy, right?

Well, according to the real dictionaries my Mommy-ition of Mushers is all wrong.  Apparently a Musher is a driver of a dog sled.

So, I am happy to report that as of nearly 1 week ago, I have become officially (for an hour) a real-live Musher.

Also joining the “Musher Nungesser Crew” are:  Richard (the dad), Adelyne (the decade plus two eye roller), Maxwell (the Half-Musher as he helped the Main Musher French Fred), and Me (Brookie—the Mommy Musher).  Josephine was not a Musher.  She was a Musher’s company—meaning that she was plopped into her daddy’s front part of his sled and got to enjoy the VERY bumpy ride.  Good thing Daddy Musher did not tip, eh?!

Anyhow, dog sledding was an absolute and lovely blast that I highly recommend for all!

You first have to arrive where all of the dogs are chained up (just like in Iron Will) and then prepare with the instructions of driving your sled.  Let me tell you, I nearly wanted to be a passenger after the mini-Mushing-class (kid you not timid smile and nervous laugh inserted here).

Our instructor, Elizabeth got out a sled and said, “OKAY!  Here is your brake.  It is VERY important.”

Yes, Elizabeth—you were SO right!  Holy COW!!!!  Know how to use your brake!

Then she said, “ALWAYS hold onto your sled.  IF YOU LET GO, THEY WILL LEAVE YOU AND THEN YOU WILL HAVE TO RUN AFTER THEM…In the mountains.  In the snow. ”

BRRRRR.  And, NO THANK YOU.  I don’t even run after my own children, much less DOGS!

Finally she said, “BE THE BOSS!”

Yeah, right!

Easy for a lady that WAS the boss of the dogs.

But, in the end.  She was right.  You had to be the boss or those crazy huskies would roll around on the snow and want to go whichever way the butterfly traveled.

Okay—so there weren’t really butterflies considering it was like 19F, but, whatever.  Those dogs were hilarious.

Therefore, not only did you have to be “The Boss” (Sorry, Springsteen) of the dogs, you HAD to…Like a MUST…know the lead dog’s name.  Without that name, the dogs following were like, “La-di-da-da-da!”

With the lead dog’s name and a rowdy, “Let’s go, Chaussettes (Socks),” the others would pop up and follow your Socks (literally, the name of my dog in French was Socks). Which would then give you an opportunity to “Woo-hoo” while holding on tight—at times, bending the knees for the little “pop” over the crazy hill so you could feel like you were a true Musher and sway with the sled (lest you fall off and then are dragged while HANGING on so your dogs don’t run away for like…ever).

And there you have it.  You have officially become a Musher. For an hour.

And the hour goes FAR TOO QUICKLY.  And you wish you had the whole day. And you loved every minute although you and your family laughingly recall the moments you almost went over the railing of the bridge or smashed into the tree or tilted to the extreme sideways as your dogs did not stay on the path but crossed the icy hill ahead of you to take a shortcut.  Those lazy dogs (smile and wink for the feistiness of the husky).

Yes.  All things that pretty much happened in your hour as a professional Musher.  Or your professional Bucket List kicker!

Which is, after all, what you just did!  Filled and kicked that Bucket List right up with an awesome experience that your GoPro actually recorded so you have evidence of every “Woo Hoo” and “WATCH OUT FOR THE BRIDGE” moment.

Life with children can sometimes be mundane.  Messy. Tiring. And well…a million other things.

But life with a Bucket List and littles keeps life #fresh and #exciting and #exhilarating.

And Mushing.  Yes, I recommend putting that one on your list.

As long as you #hangontight!

Don’t Ever Help the Local Teens When You’re Traveling on a Foreign Bus

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Oh my.  I am seriously crying over here.  I was reminded yesterday that my sister, the MOST helpful woman you will ever meet, was inspired on our recent trip to Italy (#sisterchick style) to help the local teenage boys out…on the bus…at the top of her voice.

Here is how the story goes…

We were on the Pisa city bus just, very apparently, not making our way to the Leaning Tower…So there we were.  Hanging out.  Watching the city pass us by, while the locals hopped on and off.  Pushing stop buttons when wanting to exit and stamping tickets when boarding.

We knew we had to get back to the train station—so, you know, we had to basically ride the loop out.

This gave us OODLES of time to get really really really like super really bus savvy.  I mean, we were riding it for like an hour—so we did have it figured out.

Stop button meant people wanted off.  Tickets punched meant people would be riding.

The thing is…the bus was so busy that we were all scattered throughout.  From front to back—dragging our ridiculously heavy suitcases with us—carry-on luggage—and lots and lots of sweat from our over-stuffed train ride to get to Pisa from Florence (but that’s another story).

And in the midst of the bus chaos and complete separation we hear from somewhere in the middle a LOUD and TALL REDHEAD shouting in her best Italian #@$&%!

The bustling, overcrowded, LOUD bus comes to a complete moment of silence===and we, the traveling #sisterchicks, all look towards Darby (my sister) and stare.  Mouths open.

What did she just yell?????

Whatever it was, it brought Italy to a standstill.

No one…foreign or otherwise…knew what to do.

And then we hear her, “I am just trying to help stop the bus.”

All of us, however, came to the conclusion that whatever word the teenage boys were shouting on the bus was probably, very likely, absolutely without a doubt, we are sure of it…not the word STOP!

What word was it?

Well, considering it was teenage boys yelling it…let’s just say it was probably a very naughty word that my sister would most likely punish her own teenagers for saying 😉

Yes, here she was, in a foreign country, yelling it at the top of her lungs!

#$%!@##$#!

Needless to say—the bus did stop.

Talking that is.

Not in motion.

It kept rolling…

Much like our laughter to this day.

Oh, dear friends, wherever you go, if there are teenage boys shouting, keep this in mind…

Don’t repeat what they are saying…ESPECIALLY if it is in a foreign language.

And on a bus!

***

photo credit:  Laura Hocknell; photo caption:  Perspective;  photo subject:  DARBY the bus yeller!!!!!

 

#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!

 

Perspective on the other foot

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Photo by Inga

My near 10-year-old daughter has only lived 18 months of her entire life in the United States, instead growing up in Europe.

Many may find that magical.  Like the lives of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and all of the Dwarves!

Birds chirping.

Bells ringing.

Mice cleaning our home (instead of making a mess of it).

It really is different.  Europe.

And, being an American, I sense it.  In my life, as an adult in Europe, I sense it.  Especially as a mom of a child that feels more European than American.

As an outsider to an insider.

And this is what I have come to conclude.

We always look at the lives of others through our eyes and wish…

Wish we had their lives, experiences, and adventures.

And while many look at mine and wish for my experiences, my daughter looks at theirs and wishes the same.

To some, seeing a big and fancy run-down castle in Europe and walking down cobblestone streets is Disneyland!

To my daughter, wild camping in the dessert, wading through rivers, listening to coyotes, making s’mores, and catching fish is Disneyland!

The point is…

Life is very different, no matter where in the world you live.

But the most important thing is this—live it!

And appreciate what it is that surrounds you—because, somewhere, others in the world wish your life was theirs.

Their Disneyland.

Independence Day in Poland!

I mean, seriously!  We could not have asked for a more beautiful day of weather to celebrate Poland’s Independence Day!   

And we, meaning my awesome family, celebrated true American style—all dressed to a T in Polish colors:  white and red!

We ate Polish flags for breakfast and sang patriotic Polish karaoke and delivered homemade Polish and American flags with the traditional rogale to our neighbor who lives alone and has no family.

 

We went into town and watched the March and fed and chased pigeons.



Wait.

What do pigeons have to do with Poland?

Completely nothing.  It’s a European thing 😉

The night ended at a restaurant off the square and ice cream for dessert.


Reflecting upon today, we thanked God that we live in a country that is free and safe.  A country that provides an education for our children and allows us to worship Him freely.

We may be Americans celebrating Polish Independence Day, but we do so with as great of pride of country as our fellow Poles.

Thank you, Poland, for this opportunity to live in your land—and thank you, our Polish  friends, for being a country of unending resilience and an example of freedom!

We love you!

Polish Obiad?

In Poland, the biggest meal of the day is lunch.

Lunch, however, comes after sniadania and drugi sniadania—which means first and second breakfast.  Yes.  It’s true.

And, of course, after a spot of tea, as well 😉

You would think that in a country where all they do is eat that they would be rolling everywhere.

But no.  They are thin.  Don’t be jealous.  I’ll host those feelings for you (smile and wink).

After their two breakfasts and tea, Obiad finally comes into play…

It looks something like this:  soup, potatoes, meat, and coleslaw.

If you’re lucky, you also get dessert—homemade cake.

No.  I have never conformed to this culture.  Except for eating it all.

When I was at the grocery store yesterday, I thought “You know—these items are quite different than the American grocery shelf—perhaps I’ll take a few photos and invite you over for lunch.”

The question is, “Do you want to come?”

Wait to see what I have to offer, and then you can let me know 🙂

First up:  my favorite pet—the bunny!

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Although it doesn’t look as fluffy skinned, does it?

Next:  The bloody liver sausage!  And, yes.  I’ve eaten it.  My students served it to me after I served them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Sounds like a fair trade, eh?

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Yum yum?

What’s my opinion?

It’s salty.

But this was nothing compared to that Scottish haggis I ate once.

Last on the menu today—just for you—smoked trout.  Whole.  Eyes and all.  I am sure you will love it!

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How do you eat it?  Why just punch, pull, and pop it into your mouth.

What does it taste like?

In my desert rat opinion—it tastes like it looks.  But Europeans love their fish served 1001 ways, so don’t tell them it’s not my favorite.

Don’t fret.  Although their main meal of the day is in the middle of the afternoon, they still have something like a snack time around 4-5 and then kolacja (supper/dinner) later.

No, I’m not joking.

And it usually consists of either Belgian  waffles that they call gofry, crepes (nalesniki), soup, pierogi, or simply kanapki (sandwiches).

Do I cook like a Polish mom or babcia (grandma)?

This should answer your question:

“Mom, what’s for dinner tonight?”

“Dry cereal.  Eat as much as you want. Wash it down with some water.  Smacznego, my darlings!”

***

How about you?  How does the community around you eat?  

Wow…Two anniversaries in one month celebrated!

Before I knew it—I clicked on this blog today (my blog—this one you are reading) and realized that I started this And 2 Makes Crazy blogging journey basically two years ago this month!  Wee!  What fun.

And it all began with these first two posts and pictures (click on the highlighted for the post):

And My Husband Made Me Cry

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My Husband Had a Combover, and I Almost Didn’t Date Him

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So, I decided to see what were the three most viewed photos and posts from the three calendar years of my blogging.

Confusing anyone?! (I started the Blog August 2013…So to date with 3 calendar years:  August 2013, 2014, 2015).

Here you go!  It was a fun stroll down memory lane for me.

Oh—side note—my hubby and I just celebrated (a month early) our 15th anniversary.  YEA FOR US!  If you have followed And 2 Makes Crazy for any period of time, you will know this is a victory.  Because if there is anything that can be said about this blog—it’s that we are honest.  Our marriage from 2012 and after was a real struggle for me.  A lot went into it—and a lot of God’s grace got us through it.

So, happy 15 to us—Brooke and Richard.  I honestly can say that I am SO happy we plowed through the down days and have made it to the other side of our rainbow.  I pray, if you are struggling, that you will keep your head down and your back strong and allow God to pull you through, too!

Anyhow—Before I get to the top 3 photos; blogs read; and clicks outside of And 2 Makes crazy, I want to remind you that you can LIKE And 2 Makes Crazy on Facebook (Yea!) or simply my personal Facebook page and also Follow Me on Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and Twitter!  I am not a frequent Tweeter, Pinterest-er, YouTuber, or Instagramer—but I’d love to have you along for the journey anyway!

Also, if you want to walk down memory’s lane for last year’s anniversary surprise my husband had for me, I invite you to read here: Happy Anniversary Hot Stuff

And here:The Takeoff.  Getting out of your comfort zone (and the video to boot!)

Okay—2 years of And 2 Makes Crazy blogging fun!

Most viewed photos for the three Augusts (2013, 14, 15):

1. When we were merely a family of 4

2.  The flying contraption

3.  The nursing momma

 Most read blog posts:

  1. I don’t love Jesus.  Can we still be friends?
  2. How to be a good wife
  3. I broke my bra.  The saga of nursing in America.

Most outside of And 2 Makes Crazy clicks:

  1. Porn is a threat to children (Mail Online)
  2. 7 Crippling Parenting Behaviors That Keep Children From Growing Into Leaders (Forbes)
  3. Poland for Kids:  Poznan and Gniezno (Kid World Citizen)

Once again—Happy double anniversary!

One for the blog—that I have immensely enjoyed writing over the last two years (even though the last year was more sporadic).

Two for 15 years of being married to the man that continues to live in my dreams, Richie!

I wish you all a great end-of-August, and always a great abundance of God’s grace and mercy in your lives as well.

xo b

(Here’s a flashback of me and the Mr.  My better half of Crazy)

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