5 tips to help your child feel at home in a foreign country

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We have 3 children: Adelyne, 11 years; Maxwell, 5 years; and Josephine 3 years. All of them are American Passport holders but Polish residents.

This is what we, Richard and Brooke Nungesser, as foreigners abroad, have learned about living and raising children in a country that is outside of our passport country.

1.  Make sure that your child speaks the language

We were told that the best way for our children to learn the language is enroll them in the public schools. We did that with Adelyne. She entered kindergarten with limited Polish and made friends the first day of school. And, so, with our children we apply the method of full immersion.

Today, Adelyne is fluent in Polish, is starting the 6th grade, and last year (in 5th grade) was the class president. She is never at home because she is daily with the friends in her neighborhood and community. Best of all, she has no hesitancy to go anywhere in Poland (For example: shop, cinema, park, post office) because Poland is her home through life and language.

2.  Be your child’s advocate for social hour

We were extremely active in soliciting play dates and building community around Adelyne. We wanted to make sure that, even if  language was difficult, she would feel loved and accepted by the people that she spent the majority of her life with here in Poland.

Our oldest has an entire community of friends and parents that are her extended family.  Although her aunts and uncles may be in the United States, she has an entire village of aunts and uncles in Poland (ciotki i wujkowie). It is a gift, giving your child family in a faraway land.

3.  Teach your child to have pride in country of residence

One of the most important things you can do is teach your children about the country where you reside. It is one of the most vital parts of helping your child understand and care about your country of residence:  knowing the country. What are important dates, events, traditions, foods, festivals?

Not only is it important but fun.

Therefore, go ahead and participate in the parades and traditions of the country. As an added bonus, dress them in the country’s colors, of course!

4.  Be adventurous

Absolutely teach your child to explore! It is a vital part of life: exploration. And, being in a foreign country gives you an opportunity to do something so few have the privilege of doing: exploring while “close” to home. Your home abroad, of course.

Find out what places, cities, national monuments or mountains are in your country of residence.

Once you have compiled a list of places you would like to visit, make sure to take time with your family putting them in order of importance to you. Then take a look at your calendar and mark the dates for your explorations.

Lastly, if you do not have to take car to get there, find the local bus, streetcar, or trains that travel to those destinations and relax on your journey. After all, the train is always more fun!

5.  Open your home

Just as important it is for your child to explore other cultures, invite your local village to come into your home and life and explore the life of your culture, too. Make your customary foods and invite them to help you celebrate your home country’s holidays.

Bring diversity to your village, teaching your child that while it is important to celebrate the country of residence, it’s also important to celebrate heritage! And everyone will be better because of it.

In fact, we have made it a point to open our home to our daughter’s classmates and the community, including the parents. We host annual parties and barbecues at our home, and the children wait for these events each year.

Doing this has really expanded not only our daughter’s community but ours, as well, and has made us feel completely at home.

Which is what this is all about, a home away from home!

 

 

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So Forty!

nunsintorun

Like I am so overwhelmingly 40 that someone could write a book about 40 based upon my life.

I bloat—and automatically 3 people ask if I’m pregnant.

I say—“No.  I am not pregnant.  Just 40.”

One kind man looked confused and said, “Thirty?”

And I said, “No, 40…And I am not having any more  (bold and underline this, please) children.”

He went on to tell me I still have time for one more…

I went on to tell him a thing or two…(Okay—nice things 😉 ).

I have two small kids and a 10 year old.  The ten year old is an angel because she can shower and brush her teeth all alone.

The others—it’s like, “What’s that?  You need to go on the toilet AGAIN????  Aren’t you still in diapers??????????”  And then I remember that he is officially 4.  So I follow him into the toilet and wipe his little bum after he goes number 2.

The last is like “NOOOOOOO!!!!!!  I do it!”  And if you enter her presence without her permission, she is like “THIS IS MY ROOM!!!!!!”  And if she was not so RIDICULOUSLY the cutest thing walking this earth, it would just not be so cute (smile smile wink wink)  Okay, okay…It’s pretty typical 2 and cute.

And then there are those that days that my little son brings me cookies and I ask, “Did you eat lunch?” And he’s like “No, my tummy is not hungry for food.”  So I open his cookies and send him on his way just so that I can have a spare moment alone to eat my own cookies.

Friends…I am SOOOOO 40!  Beyond, totally 40.

And while I mostly handle it fine—I realize that the babcia in me is starting to sneak out (grandma for those that don’t know what babcia means)…And then I realize that these are not my grandkids but my kid-kids.  I am suppose to be MONITORING their sugar intake —NOT increasing it 😉

Oh me oh my oh my oh me!!!!!

I am Brooke.  And I.AM.FORTY.

Can I take a nap, please?????

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:

davidshand

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):

mydavidsrock

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:

hiseyes

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):

hisfeet

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:

FullSizeRender

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!

sisterchickstakevenice

“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.

leaningtower

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!

hiseyes

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!

 

My Sweet Littles Saying Their Prayers and Dancing on Couches!

You must think that I only have two children with the fact that only Josephine and Maxwell appear to be in my videos.  Sometimes I feel as if I only have two children.  But I actually have three:  Sweet Adelyne, as well.  It’s just that, at 9 years of age, Sweet Adelyne has the most social of social calendars of ANYONE I know.  Not just of 9 year olds. Of anyone—9 or 90—that I know.

It’s awesome fabulous—because, you know, we live in this foreign land called Poland.  And it’s awesome fabulous that my daughter is not a foreigner in this foreign land—she is a Pole.  A proud one.  And she lives her life as a full-blown Polish gal.  Romping, playing, going to school, studying, extra curricular activities, and so forth.

She breathes White and Red.  I am so thankful to God for that!

But that also means when I am at home being Mommy 24/7…(last night daddy actually was home and by 6pm, so we had family pizza night.  twas awesome!)…

familypizzanight

Anyhow…As I play this magical and amazing role of Mommy 24/7, I tend to video those subjects most around me:  Which would continue to explain the absence of Adelyne and Richard 🙂  Neither tend to be around me that often…

Hmmm?????  Perhaps it’s me?!  Haha!

Once again, I really hope you enjoy the videos of the Littles that steal my every moment—even my potty breaks.  But they fill my life with such amazing miraculous wonder, I can’t help but love my every minute.

Here continues the sweet adventures of my Littles, Jo and Max!  Enjoy.

GoGo, will you dance with me?  Asks her awesome Big Bro Maxwell!

Trying to get two toddlers that share a room to settle down and pray is oh so stinking sweet!

I walk into the living room and find Max on top of the couch dancing to Christmas music (yes—we’ve been playing it ever since the chill hit the air!).

I wish you all well and lots of warm love, Christmas music, and overall contentment with where God has placed you in life.

xo for now,

b

I didn’t wear my wedding ring.

Have you ever lost your glasses that were at the end of your nose?  Or your hat that was on top of your head?

Well, I definitely have.  And did.  Just the other day.

You see, I was at work the other day. I work on the computer for a large portion of my time, as I work on sharing stories and finding supporters for our foundation, Bread of Life Ministries (click here!)…

It’s a very daunting job—but I would not have ANY other job.  Here is a a throwback photo of a donation made so that we could build a new soup kitchen!

soup kitchen check from PILC

To know all of the children, men, and women that we get to see served a bowl of soup, a new pair of glasses, an opportunity for counseling, life-saving cancer treatment, an education in Western Africa where most that we serve live on $2.00 or less a day, or a night of safety in a rescue center, is worth every minute that we do not sleep at night worrying about where the money will come in to help rescue these precious people!

And, to be fair to God, he does tell us not to worry about tomorrow.  That’s just a hard one to accept.

Anyhow, it happened.

I was at work when I glanced down at my hand.  That’s when I saw it.  Or didn’t see it!

My MISSING wedding ring.

I panicked.  Not because my husband would be upset if I wasn’t wearing my ring—he knows he’s always been my one and only hottie.  I panicked because I have a 14-month-old daughter that is at a stage in her life that is THROWING EVERYTHING IN THE TRASH!

I mean, really.  She literally goes to the refrigerator and takes something out of it and then goes straight to the trashcan and giddily throws it away.  I should have filmed her the other day.  It was as if she had discovered Disneyland in our very own kitchen.  Except the rides were her feet and the thrill was the trash can.

That is why, when I didn’t see my wedding ring, I panicked.

Where did I put it?  On the table at home?  In the bathroom?  On the counter?

Did I lay it down and then get distracted by doing my hair or makeup?

Oh my.  Oh my.  Oh my.  Oh my!

I still worked the rest of the day, but as soon as I got home, I looked everywhere for my wedding ring.  My search was fruitless.  I couldn’t find it anywhere.

And then suddenly it hit me.  BAM!

This was the very thought that ran through my mind, “Check your left hand!”

Sure enough, I looked at my left hand and there on my “Ring Finger” was my wedding ring!

Say what?  You may ask.

Let me clear your confusion.  For nearly a decade or more, I have been wearing my wedding ring on my right hand like they do in Poland.  And, for some odd reason that morning, I must have absently placed it on my left hand and forgot all about it.  Especially since I frantically looked at my right hand all day and concocted crazy scenarios about where my wedding ring went.

Like the glasses at the end of our nose or the hat on top of our head, my ring finger on my left hand was natural—and yet, at the same time, unnatural.  So unnatural, that I didn’t even think to look on my left hand for my ring when it went missing 😉

I guess my little trash-throwing daughter is off the hook—for now—in this dual-culture case of “The Missing Ring”.

Photos of our Dancing Ada…Sweet Adelyne!

sisters

Here is our Sweet Adelyne!

xoxo from here to there,
b

ada preparing for her dance

ada dancing

ada and her dancing partner

The above photos are of the dance that Adelyne and 3 others performed while 2 of the students sang the song.  Adelyne was so excited—but she couldn’t believe that she had to dance with a BOY!  Ah the fun of being a kid.

the next dance

sweet adelyne

the girls created this dance themselves

doing the splits

the sweetest bunch of friends EVER

This dance was choreographed by Adelyne and her friends.  They were so excited to create a dance and perform their very own creation for the grandparents.  They did a FANTASTIC job and looked as cute as could be in the process (these are also Adelyne’s best friends at school).

the headmaster and the welcome

the grandparents

Here the headmaster of the school is welcoming the grandparents of the 1 and 3 grade classes to the presentation (It was the 1st and 3rd grade classes that performed).

alan the forest hedgehog

little red riding hood

grandma

the hunter to the rescue

The students that were not in the dances were in the play Little Red Riding Hood (especially fitting since there is a grandma in the play, right?).  They were phenomenal and OH SO CUTE!

Guess who was the biggest fan of the entire show?  JOSEPHINE!  She watched almost the entire play and the dances and all of the songs like this:

sweet josephine

Anyhow—hope you enjoyed the photos.  If you didn’t have a chance to watch the YouTube videos of the dances, I hope that you’ll click on the link and go right to them.  They are as cute as can be.

(Of course, my camerawork is a bit shaky considering I am also monitoring a very mobile 1 year old at the same time)

The dancing ballerinas:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nv5gdDUUzMo

The dancing gals:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygYbewb2BoY