I wore my winter jacket and beanie in September. Yes. Everyone stared.


We moved to Poland September 8, 2001. We moved from Arizona. We packed what we thought were warm clothes. Turns out, warm clothes from Arizona are merely “thick” t-shirts.

We arrived and were freezing our tails off.

Seriously. It was raining. It was cold.

The heat wouldn’t turn on in our flat because the city controlled the heat in our flat and it was not yet deemed “cold” enough by the city to turn on the heat.

I was an Arizona Desert Rat. Instead of melting, I was living in an ice box gathering ice crystals.

I will never forget how cold I was.

I was so cold, I convinced my husband that we must run out and buy warm jackets.

It wasn’t even technically warm jacket season. After all, it was only September. Little did I know how cold November, December, and so forth would get if I was cold in September, eh?! To me it was already like Siberia.

We were off.  We went to buy winter jackets.  I found one.  Floor length and brown.  And a brown scarf.  And a brown hat.  And brown gloves.

I went all out.

I tell you, I was cold.

And then we went out.  Literally.  Out.  In public.  For all to see.

I was wrapped from head to toe in my beanie, my gloves, my scarf.  You could barely see my eyes.  But, worse than any of that was my jacket.  My floor-length, brown, winter jacket.

I was so toasty warm.  And it was evening.  And we decided to walk to the city square.

Oh, tears are in my eyes right now recalling the numerous stares and mumblings we got as I walked around all wrapped like an Eskimo, yet technically still living in Polish summer.  So funny.

Ah…memories of when we first arrived in Poland.  And although I laugh now, I know then I was freezing.  To my bone freezing.

Oh, I forgot to mention how cold it was.

About 60+F (around 16C).

To a desert rat, 60F is akin to the North Pole.  And that is where I felt we lived.

Needless to say, my jacket and I really learned what cold was when actual winter hit.  And then I dreamed about the return of those “warm” Polish evenings.


I hope that there are folks still enjoying the attack of the mummy at their dinnertime conversation.

In any case, with time, I learned how to actually dress appropriately for the weather.  And eventually I learned that September was not the right time to run around in floor-length jackets, gloves, scarves, and beanies, with only your eyes peeking through.

But, even after all of these years in Poland, I am still that same desert rat, freezing and cold.  Just better adjusted for the weather.

Now, here are the TOP 10 most read posts this past year as And 2 Makes Crazy celebrates its one-year blog-o-versary.   If you haven’t read one of the following posts, I hope that you go on back and have a read.


xoxo from here to there,


(Top 10 from the entire blogging year in order of Most Read)

1.  I don’t love Jesus.  Can we still be friends?  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-ln

2.  How to be a Good Wife.  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-ue

3.  Knockdown, drag-out fight in Costco.  Today, I appreciate family!  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-Mo

4.  Marital Un-Bliss and Lack of Sleep had a devastating Effect on My Eyebrows.  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-3i

5.  Belly Josephine.  And my Ada and Max.  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-gp

6.  How to Keep the Romance Alive.  Or Kill It.  Your Hair May Choose.  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-50

7.  My Nose Ring was “Snot” a Good Idea.  And We Got a Puppy.  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-6B

8.  Porn on Sunday.  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-ww

9.  O-M-G, Christians, watch what you say.  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-rZ

10.  Hidden Bookshelves:  Poland.  And when we first arrived.  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-da

And because it is always interesting to see which one comes in 11th…

11.  Raising a Nutty Kid.  http://wp.me/p3Bh9m-wT



When I was electrocuted…and Adelyne made banana muffins.


I was 10 weeks pregnant with Adelyne when Richard and I were working one really late night out at the New Life Center. We had just purchased the property, and it needed a completely new deck.  The old deck was basically non existent.  Which means, the framework was there, but the walkway was dangerous planks placed strategically one next to each other.  And believe me when I say, if you fell off the plank, you were fed to the sharks…or the spiders and other spooky stuff that lived under the porch.  It was a true walk the gangplank challenge.  And, in order to open a transitional home for men, there definitely needed to be something other than gangplanks to walk.

If you want to see the NLC and the porch, click on the link above (the highlighted New Life Center) and look at the blue house and you’ll immediately see the porch.

Okay, back to my story.  So, at 10 weeks pregnant, Richard and I were out there working really late one Polish summer, building the deck.  It was quite a dangerous job, and we were basically working off of the day’s light or the waning sun’s light.  Just as we finished one part of the deck, we prepared to move to another section to work on when I saw a dangling wire.

Now, mind you, I am not a daft person, but this was definitely not one of my most defining Einstein moments of my life.  I decided to loop this dangling wire and hang it from a nail that was protruding from the nearby pillar.  I thought, “Oh, great idea, Brooke, I’ll get that dangling wire out of the way.”

Oh, bad idea, Brooke.  As soon as I touched the exposed wire to move it, not realizing it was live, 220 volts went shock, right through my body!

Yowzer!  It hurt.  Yes, it did.  But I got back to work.  And many hours later with lots of help, that deck was finally finished.  Just one small step in the process of making the home that we purchased into the perfect transitional center.  Don’t get me started on all of those bags of cement I also had to go and purchase and carry—yes, while pregnant.  And the sewage that needed to be cleaned (um…after basically telling Richard that I would clean the sewage filter rocks, even though I was pregnant, he finally jumped in and got the job done)…

Needless to say, every single ounce of effort was so worth it.  To see how God transforms the lives of the men that go through the center and its program is astounding.

And, today, as several of the participants from the New Life Center were at our house (our personal house), Adelyne, that same little baby that was in my belly when I was electrocuted 8 years ago, was using electricity.

This time to make muffins.  Muffins for the men from the New Life Center.

It’s funny how God works.  Eight years ago, I would have never thought my electrocuted baby belly would be using some of that same 220 to bake for the men that live in the home of the porch that she, in my belly, helped build.

Walking the planks was worth it…And I love that my daughter continues to walk them with me.

Tell me, what did you do in your past that continues to be a big part of your life today?  I look forward to hearing from you!


“Do Not Disterb!” Instead give Elmo a hair cut.


I saw this sign lying on the floor in my daughter’s room. Apparently, she could not find tape. It’s no wonder. My house remains an utter disaster. It’s not dirty…it’s just boxes of stuff. Stuff to keep and find a place for. Stuff to give to anyone that would like it (not junk—no one needs more junk-stuff like nice blankets or jeans that I haven’t slipped into for, um, 8 years or so). And designated stuff to pass on to other ladies having girl or boy babies.

I gotta get rid of this stuff. It resides in my hallway that is approximately 2 and 1/2 to 3 feet wide.

These boxes rule our roost right now. How I wish they could sprout legs—because I definitely feel like showing them Adelyne’s sign, “Do not disterb”! By the way, isn’t that the cutest thing. E is the appropriate sound for the word. Tricky English. Or do you hear the “ur” sound? Tricky ears!

In the meantime, besides the boxes, Maxwell has taken to smearing his poop all over his walls, mattress, bed, and stuffed animals in bed with him.

Elmo, his favorite, is electronic and really fun and educational. Well, of course he is, he is Elmo after all. And since he is all fancy, I had to give Elmo a bath with a washcloth. But there was some stubborn poop in there, so Elmo also ended up with a hair cut.

Speaking of Maxwell, we also got this awesome and bright shagadelic turquoise carpet. Yep. Total 70s love, Baby. And Maxwell. Ah, Maxwell, my 2-year-old love…Maxwell has fallen in love with our game closet. And Hi Ho Cheery-O! Let me just say, flower power to our carpet—but headache to the momma that chose it. What was I thinking? I have combed the carpet all day and still haven’t found all of the cherries. Thankfully at random times I step on something and try to keep my foot perfectly still, bending down, and start combing through 1 inch of shag to try and find that darn cherry game piece! See, this is why I have always tried to avoid trendy. I get what I deserve, I suppose. The good news is that Josephine can’t find them either. So no choking hazard in our home (for the moment).

Speaking of pooping.


Oh, you weren’t?  Well, I have two in diapers 😉

Anyhow, Josephine has started eating solid foods more and more.  This is a big deal in our home.  She eats her cream of wheat in the mornings and then has some sort of typical Polish obiad in the afternoon—she is going to turn into a posh lil’ ol’ baby.  Her choices for lunch yesterday and today:  Salmon yesterday; Veal today.  Oooh, lala, JoJo.  The rest of us were eating sandwiches.


But can I honestly say—baby salmon?!  Gag!  Stinky, stinky, stinky!  I hope she grows up smart because we are all gagging over here while she eats (smile and wink). #omegafoods


Now, back to speaking about Josephine (don’t worry, I won’t get into the fact that she’s turning into a solid pooping machine with all of this new food), instead I will tell you that people at the lake love her.  She is this big, smiling thing that just radiates joy.  And she is always waving her arms up and down and cooing at everyone.  So, I guess this means that complete strangers have the right to come and touch her?  I don’t know—I don’t seem to touch random people’s kids.  I mean, I may stop and talk to your kid with smiles, etc., but I don’t touch their faces and hands, and stuff.  Josephine never minds.  It’s mostly mommy and daddy that have the problem with it.  #welcometoadifferentculture

Speaking of random people touching your kid, there have been two incidences, count them 1-2, at the lake when random strangers have literally PICKED Maxwell up.  Let me explain.  You see, one of us will be swimming with Adelyne in the lake while the other is manning the two babies.  Which means that Max is usually getting water by the bucket for sand play and JoJo is either splashing in the water or also playing in the sand.  And when I say Josephine is playing in the sand, that means Josephine is eating the sand.  In any case, there is always one parent watching Max and Josephine.  But I guess that doesn’t count.  Because on two separate occasions, someone has literally gone out into the lake and picked Maxwell up.


“Ummm…excuse me?  Parent of Maxwell here.  You know, the kid you are randomly picking up because you fear for his safety.  Yep, pretty sure we are watching him closely.  You know, it’s this bad habit we have called parenting.  But it doesn’t mean that we have to touch him on every occasion or hold his hand while he scoops water into his bucket.” #mykidnotyours

Speaking of Adelyne (kind-of, more in reference to her at the lake), Richard and I worried so much before we left America for her return to Poland.  Adelyne had the most amazing year and a half in the States.  We were literally sick to our stomachs to take her away from her family and school and friends and return her to Poland.  Sometimes I think we as parents worry more about our kids…But she did have one day about a week into moving back to Poland where she sat on my lap and said, “I don’t know why I am crying.  I am just so sad.”

And my heart broke for her.  #iunderstandadelynemetoo


But, alas, one month in, she is very happy to be back in Poland.  My heart…and her daddy’s heart…are more settled for her.  She has her best friend, Wiki, back, and she has started both French and Polish lessons.  French lessons are with her brother.  She is so happy and even lets him call it “Max’s school”.  #threelanguages #mommyneedstostilllearnpolish

Oh, my dear friends, there is still so much more to say…But for now I will sign off and save the rest for another time.

So much fun moving back to a different culture!

Pa for now…I’ve got pickles to go and make (I’ll let you know how they turn out).



Monthly Top 10

one week left before i update may’s blogging adventures—make sure you have an april read.  in the meantime, my husband leaves in 5 days for poland for a month of work … and, when he can, prepping the house for the return of 5.  we left poland as 4.  two in cribs, having to share the same room upon return.  boy and girl combo room.  i found awesome decorations, however, that are both manly and girly.  i’ll see how i can make it work once we get back to poland.  his job—stoke the coal and get rid of the mouse poop, refill the pantry, and get the cars running because poland here we come—a house full of crazy nuns…gessers, that is 🙂 🙂 🙂

Monthly Top 10.

I’m preparing for Hell. Or is it hell?


That’s it.  I am officially preparing for it!  Hell.  Or is it hell?  Lowercase H?  Or am I even allowed to write that word on my blog?  You know…as a pastor’s wife.

Hmmm.  Good question.  Should I have written H-E-double hockey sticks?

But it’s true.  I am officially preparing for it.

Did you know that I have already lived through it?!

It’s called an Arizona summer.

And, yep.  I am definitely preparing for it.

Glad it won’t last an eternity, even though it seems like it.

June 22nd I will escape Hell (hell) and hop on a jet plane…flying back to Poland.  For good.  And good means as long as God directs us to remain.

Feelings.  Well, they are up.  They are down.  Ultimately, however, they are peaceful.

Will I be sad?  More than words.

Will I miss my family?  More than words.

Will I survive?  Barely.  And that’s where God will have to definitely step in and help me change a few diapers.

Okay.  Okay.  He’s not in the business of changing diapers—but he is in the business of being our steadfast.  Our constant.  Our steady.

And so I will survive.  With great joy.  Because I am very excited to return.

That does not cancel out my feelings of sadness.  I love Arizona.  I love my family.  I love the United States.

But I love God more.  And right now, during this season in our life, we have been gifted the privilege of living in Poland.  Of working in Poland.  In seeing people around the world make a difference in the lives of thousands of others.

That is awesome.

And I was just kidding about Arizona being hell.  Or was I?!

To sign off until you see me on the other side of the world, I will leave you with a link to a blog posting by author, speaker, and life coach, Lisa Skabrat, as she wrote a post about a brave young man and his fight.  In it, she made a very loving reference to our daughter Adelyne’s spirit of strength.  Please take a moment to click and read it.

It helped me remember:  Although we are scared, with God we can be brave.  And Fly a Little Higher!

Until you see me on the other side of the pond, I wish all of your crazies out there well (I’ll stop by to update the Top 10 at the end of May).

In the meantime, a big American hug and 3 Polish kisses thrown in for good measure.  Or, as my husband would say, 3 Polish kisses just for fun.  After all, who doesn’t like kissing hot babes?!

Before I leave, remember to click and take a read:  When Life Demands to See What You’re Made Of  (Adelyne is written about in this article)

See you soon…On the other side!


Yes, he did ask for salt and breasts…Humility with humor, right?!


You know…languages are difficult.  Especially if your name is Richard and you can’t hear the difference between the sound that e makes and the sound that a makes.

But, oh the words he knows in Polish—he’s so proud of!  And he uses them.  As much as possible.  Because he knows them so well.  Or so he thought.

And this is how the story goes…

Once upon a time there was a man named Richard and his wife, Brooke (that’s us!).  And they had been living in a foreign land, called Poland, for nearly 11 years.  It was summer, and they were enjoying a wonderful meal at a restaurant by a lake—enjoying the sun, the surroundings, and the food.

And that’s when it happened.  Our food was brought out, and my husband asked for it!

Yep…Salt and Breasts, please!

Now, normally I don’t pay attention to the little things.  After all, we have all heard the expression—don’t sweat the small stuff.  But, for the first time in nearly 11 years, I stopped and listened when my husband made an “innocent” request to the poor, unsuspecting server.

“Salt and Breast, please!”

Yep.  It’s what he said.

And, so, I looked at him and said, “What did you say?”

He repeated his request, “Sol i piers, prosze bardzo.”  He is a very polite gentleman.  Or should we now scratch that word, “Gentleman”?  Hmmm…

I looked at him and said, “Do you know what you asked for?”

The look he gave me was priceless…almost like saying, “Duh?!  I’m not stupid!”

“Yes, of course.  Salt and pepper.”

Shaking my head in great amusement I replied, “Um…no.  You asked for ‘Salt and Breast’.”

And, of course, that’s when we had a very detailed language lesson between the word “Piers” and “Pieprz” in Polish.

Needless to say, the lovely waitress DID NOT bring us salt and breasts.  And so I had to get up and go to the counter and ask, using the correct words, for “Sol i pieprz, prosze bardzo.”  Which I got and returned to the table.  To an amused and slightly embarrassed husband.  And to our food.

Now that I think back over the last nearly 11 years, I see it clearly…We were never brought our salt and pepper.  Obviously, the reason being, he wasn’t asking for “Pepper” was he?

I guess I should be glad they never returned with a large-breasted woman holding a single jar of salt.  Haha!

Humor with humility, folks.  That’s how we live our lives.

To wrap up our humbling lives—someone once asked me, “How did you never hear what he asked for before that time?”

It’s a good and fair question, and this is all I could say, “You know, sometimes we tune out the every day stuff.  And it must be what I did.”

So, as you enter 2014, I would also like to remind you of this…

Perhaps you, too, should pay a little more attention to the simple “every day” stuff that life is made up of.

It could save you a whole lot of embarrassment.

On the other hand, it could also cost you a priceless story.

Happy 2014’s Eve, friends!

Go, and order correctly.

Throwback Thursday…Nearly 2 years and two worlds later. Whoa!

It’s amazing how time flies and can change life so quickly…

Two years ago, we were a family of 3, living in Poland…baking Maxwell.

Two years later, we are a family of 4, living in Arizona (for the time being)…baking Josephine.

Two years ago, my little gal did not have an American accent—and had never spent more than a total of 3 months in all of her life in the States.

Two years later, she has lived in the United States for an entire year—and, although she is still learning the art of the “American smile”, she no longer sounds like our own personal version of Mary Poppins.  Slightly a bummer.

Hope you enjoy her precious (1 minute) video wishing you a Merry Christmas in English and Polish.  And hope you also enjoy our throwback photos from life before Maxwell and Josephine.

Amazing how time changes things…

Many hugs for today—looking forward to writing tomorrow about “The Impossible Task”!



ImageImageImageImageBaking Maxwell:  Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany…2011

I broke up a fistfight in Poland. Total international peacekeeper here.


I did.  I broke up a fistfight between two twenty-somethings and the elderly drunk they were beating down. Oh, and, by the way, I did this in Poland.  With my limited Polish.  That’s right.  Take that, you punks!

Before I get to the fistfight, however, I have to bring you back to my teaching days before we ever left for Poland.  I used to teach at a local junior high school, and my first year of teaching was in a classroom full of total tough guys and gals.  I would just say guys, but I had one gal that would literally pick the guys up and physically move them out of her way.

Yes.  There were some days that I questioned why I even got up and entered that lion’s den.  Don’t get me wrong, I was a total hard-bottom in class.  I had to be.  Otherwise, those students would eat me alive.  They probably had forks and spoons in their desks with some condiments on the side for the day that I would crack under pressure, and then they’d pounce like a pack of wild wolves.

But, ha!  I never did crack—-well, in front of them, I never cracked.  I would have to wait until the last one slammed the door, and then my facade would slip away, and I would cry and cry and cry-thankful that I made it through another crazy day.

I am so much tougher than I appear…

One day was super fun (and I state that sarcastically).  One of the guys just released from juvenile detention, by the way, walked into class hitting everyone on his way to his seat.  Literally.  Bam!  Student one hit.  Bam!  Student two hit.  Bam!  Student three hit.  Bam!  Student four hit.  And then he made it to the back of the room where his isolated desk was.  Surprisingly agile, he leaped over it, doing a flip-like somersault, and then he popped right up, sitting himself into his chair and crossing his arms.  It was a total king of the hill moment.  You know, king of the hill, that childhood game we all used to play where you pull people off and try to be the one on the top of the hill?

All of this took place within about 5 seconds.

He was so proud.  All of the students angry.  And I was sighing.  Of course.  Again.  I walk over, pick up the phone and call, “Security, please come and remove xxx from the class.”

And, sure enough, our awesome security guard walked in and pulled him up and escorted him out.  On the way out, student xxx said, “What?  What did I do?”

Looking at him in the eyes, I simply said, “Ummm…well let’s just start with the fact that you can’t hit people.”  And they left.


This brings me to Poland.  For two years we went everywhere by public transportation before we got a car. And, honestly, even after a car, we still used public transportation a ton.  The car was super helpful, though, in picking up our donations for Bread of Life.  For the general travel around town, going to our teaching locations, etc., it was mostly public transportation.

During one of these random tram moments, I was sitting at a very popular tram stop on the West side of the train station, ready to go home after a long day of teaching.

Well, while sitting there these two punk 20-somethings decided to pick on an elderly homeless man.  How did I know he was homeless?  We had been serving homeless for about a year now.  I had gotten very good realizing who would be someone we would serve (I only made a mistake once asking a man that was “very offended” if he wanted some hot tea and a sandwich.  Oops.  I guess my radar was a little out of tune that day, eh?!).

And before any of us at the tram stop knew what was happening, these two punks started beating down this old man.  Literally beating him down.  He was on the ground trying to shield away the blows.

I jumped off of the bench all ready to enter the ring…Okay, I wasn’t looking to enter the fistfight, but there was no way I was going to sit there and watch what was taking place.

Remember that psychology example everyone learns in Psych. 101, called the Bystander effect, where people do or don’t react to someone’s need for help due to 5 characteristics that bystanders go through to determine if they will or will not help?  Anyhow, that popped in my mind and I told myself, “You go, Brooke!  Don’t be a bystander.”

So I hopped off of my bum and started yelling at those 20 somethings.  Yep.  At this age, I am a twenty-something, too, so technically they were my peers.  And I was a scrawny, skinny thing.

But I wasn’t about to be a bystander.  Nope.  By golly, I was gonna break up a fistfight in Poland.  Nostalgic for my AZ teaching days?  Perhaps.

Therefore, I hopped up, started yelling at those punks to leave the man alone.

I startled the thugs so much that they paused long enough for the elderly homeless man to hop up, grab his bag, and scurry across the street.

The thugs.  They didn’t know what to do!  Run after him?  Confront me?  Let it all go?  Stand around, now looking foolish at all of the other waiting passengers?

I think with all eyes on them, me, and the elderly homeless running away, they decided the best thing that they could also do is run away too.  In the opposite direction.

Who knows where they went?  I don’t.  Who knows if they picked a different target?  I don’t.

But I am sure that they’ll always remember that skinny foreigner that broke up their fistfight.

Yep.  Brooke.  International Peacekeeper.  Or, at least, fistfight stopper for one elderly homeless man.  In Poland.

I felt like Rocky Balboa…without throwing a punch!