We are a little bit crazy at our home and I was having a moment – like – Oh, no! We’re too crazy. I hope I’m not setting such a poor example for my kids that they won’t grow to love Jesus. (We are a bit wild 😜)
So, I said to Ada, “Ada, I am so sorry! Do I give you too much freedom or make too many poor mommy choices so that you’ll grow and not love Jesus? Because he’s the most important person you’ll ever meet/need in your life.”
She looked at me and said, “Mom, I love Jesus!”
Just like that.
In all my craziness of life and mommy-ing —- She loves Jesus.
And parenting is hard and greatly imperfect and an adventure. And you always always second guess everything that you say or do.
And most of what you do is slightly wrong 😉
But – Momma! But – Daddy!
Your kid is going to be a-okay.
In the end, we do our best and pray the greatest prayer we can …
May our precious babies love Him.
Because, in the end, He has them way more than we do.
So, we had just returned to America (in the midst of Covid) and were through our quarantine at home – I mean, after all, we had just traveled halfway across the world in the middle of a pandemic …
It was the month of my mom’s birthday – April 2020 – and we also needed a few supplies at the rental where we were staying.
And, let’s just be a little honest, I wanted out of the house. To explore.
To see the world!
So, we hopped in our borrowed car and drove straight to Walmart!
My encounter there reminds me of fan favorite (and my personal favorite) Fresh Prince …
You remember the theme song?
If you do, you can sing our story …
Now, this is a story all about how
My life got flipped-turned upside down (Thanks, Covid!)
And I’d like to take a minute
To sit right there
I’ll tell you how I returned to a town called Chandler
In west Chandler born and raised (Actually born in Mesa)
On the playground was where I spent most of my days
Chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool
And all shootin some b-ball outside of the school (Erie and Knox! AJHS & CHS)
When a couple of shoppers who were up to no good
Started making trouble in my neighborhood —- Walmart that is
I got in one little verbal fight and my husband got scared
He said ‘You’re not allowed’ back in your hood … #chandler
You got me. It wasn’t really a verbal fight. Sparring match. Or encounter of physical form at any time —- BUT —- believe me when I say, Walmart Chandler off of the 202 and Arizona Avenue heard from me!
And this is really how my story goes …
My husband (the better half of the Two Makes Crazy) and I were shopping, birthday shopping, Easter shopping, Mother’s Day shopping —- just generally, masked-up, crazed hand sanitized, shopping without littles or a teen in the mystical land full of all sorts of creatures – called Superstore (aka Walmart).
I found my mom the perfect gift. Yes, at Walmart. It couldn’t have been more perfect for my mom – let me explain why.
If you have met my mom, she is sunshine and delight. She is rainbows. And she is unicorns.
She is laughter and encouragement. The world needs more lovelies like her in it.
And her mom – my eldest daughter’s namesake, Marguerite (aka Tootsie), was laughter. She was a pint-sized miniature granny in a bottle.
She lived a full and extremely hard life. She lost big big big (burying 3 of her children, two as infants, and her husband) – and, yet, still managed to laugh well.
And Tootsie, sweet, feisty, amazing, Tootsie had a fan-favorite toy – if you could call it that.
It was a dancing bear that would dance and sing at the push of a button.
And the cackling laughter of a woman that has lived long would fill the room. Her laughter was loud. It was squeaky. It was combined with lots of exclamations.
And it was infectious.
Even if you didn’t think the stupid, dancing bear was funny, it would take you 2.3 seconds to, all of a sudden, find the obnoxious bear amazing. And you would push the dancing singing paw over and over again – simply to hear Tootsie laugh.
So – when I saw IT at Walmart, I just knew.
It beckoned me.
It called my name.
It was shiny.
It was musical.
It was a unicorn.
And it sang.
It was the perfect gift for my mom.
And, in the nostalgia of the moment, reliving the past while in the present, I pushed the button of this musical, dancing unicorn in the middle of the aisles of Walmart over and over again.
Best of all – it was the VERY LAST UNICORN on the shelf!
I had won.
Best gift of 2020 was going down with my name on it. And I just knew my mom would laugh – maybe not as loud, long, or hard, as Tootsie – but I knew it would bring joy!
And so I placed it in my cart, turned my back, and began looking for a card and bag to accompany it.
Within 2.5 seconds, there was a whoosh!
Like a flash.
So I turned.
Behind me, in my cart, was nothing.
And that’s when the Chandler in me came out and I threw down.
Okay, not literally.
I hollered, very (let’s just leave it at one very and, yet, imagine a very – very – very in there) loudly,
“Oh, COME ON, PEOPLE! DON’T STEAL FROM PEOPLE’S BASKETS! GET REAL!”
With my loud proclamation came, immediately, literally, before I could blink my eyes, a small crowd of curious shoppers.
“Are you okay?”
And the funniest of all —- “DID SOMEONE STEAL YOUR TOILET PAPER???!!!”
Yes, in the middle of a pandemic, you would think that would be a logical thing to get upset about – so imagine the surprise of the other shoppers when I said, “No, my magical, singing and dancing unicorn.”
Their concern for my cart-thievery did not hold.
After all, they did not care about my unicorn the way I did. Perhaps their toys that would dance and sing were not as memorable as mine.
So, they left.
And my cart remained empty.
But, no! I was not done.
I shouted again.
Let’s just say, the volume was ample.
“Really! A gift for my mom! Get real, people!”
And then I decided to do something kind-of stupid. Something that I would tell my teenager to never do – I went looking for a “Cart War!”
After all, they messed with my cart, I was coming after theirs!
So, I left the aisle I was in. I left my husband. I left my empty cart – and I began the trek around Walmart – eyeing everyone’s carts. Seeing if I could find the sneaky soul.
I know how to confront. I am not afraid of a fight. After all, I have broken up teenage fist fights in my neighborhood in Poland by grabbing their ears, as well as chased away bad men that were beating up a homeless man at a tram stop in Poznan.
I have served murders soup in my home.
And I have released my dog on approaching robbers in the middle of the night.
I have watched my daughter surrounded by machine guns at the Temple Mount.
And I have taken money back from a man because he did not deserve it. Literally – opened up his jacket, reached into his pocket, and took it back.
So there is no way that some lunatic at Walmart (I use that loosely, as I am most likely looking like the lunatic here) was getting away with my unicorn.
I mean, fortunately …
My mission was very short lived.
Apparently the cart thief did not think my unicorn worthy of a fight. So they ditched it on a clothing table.
My prize – tossed – haphazardly – in the middle of a pile of messy clothes.
I am sure it had a soft landing.
I picked it up, looked around for guilty faces. Saw none. (Sly thief)
And pushed the hoof.
Sure enough – the song and dance once again filled the store.
And laughter my memories.
Holding onto my unicorn, I found my husband (who did not pursue this unicorn on foot like I did). We made it through the rest of Wally’s World without incident – and the lovely, hard-fought, unicorn…
Well, let’s just say, it made it to my mom.
With a story to boot!
Maybe the unicorn doesn’t make her laugh as loud as Tootsie’s bear. But, with each push of the button, my heart is flooded with memories.
And, now, a new reason to smile.
I was back in my hood.
“What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul.”
Making candy that we are so quick to gobble up is a beautiful process perhaps far too under appreciated!
On our recent trip to Wroclaw, we were able to see a sweets shop make little bits of hard candy like grandma would give you and finish with the grand finale of a heart sucker. It was a hot yet delightful experience—and I literally felt as excited as a “kid in a candy shop” !!!
To begin, the candy base has to be heated until it reaches the perfect temp. Then it is dumped onto a granite tabletop to cool for a period of time.
Aren’t we all a bit like candy? When we are a little too hot, we also need a cooling off period.
While it is in the process of cooling, the Candy Gals begin adding the colors for their upcoming projects.
After, the candy is cut and the second process begins—it’s nearly like a play-doh factory.
You begin by folding and pounding the candy.
Which then leads to stretching it…
After stretching, they begin the process of separating their colors and building their desired result/s—which this one would eventually become a heart lolly.
Along the way, however, was almost like a “dessert break” because they took a portion of the sucker and made it into tiny little pieces of hard candy which they promptly served to our room full of eager eaters.
The candies were still warm, sour, and brought me back to grandma’s house.
While we were all sucking on our nostalgic delights, the final project was expertly being finished with twisting, turning, cutting and shaping…
Until finally, voile! The heart lolly!
Which then goes for sale at the store, Slodkie Czary Mary!
Am I patient enough to make candy?
Am I eager enough to eat it?
Pretty sure that’s a resounding You Betcha!
Do I recommend stopping in and watching this process?
Did I feel just like a delightful kid in a candy shop?
The entire time!
Hence, we should all find ourselves watching how candy is made because then we have truly experienced time travel…even if just for a moment!
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!”
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.
Life can be lived in the simple moments of family and nature, enjoying two of God’s priceless gifts.
I reflect, and often, on how my life was once full of sorrow at the hope destroyed of a baby we lost, bitterness at a marriage struggling, fear of a son dying, and exhaustion that it all never seemed to end. Seasons that seemed to toil forever.
Then I see these perfect mountains and I count 3 perfect children and I see a man I admire most on this earth and I realize that time can pull you through all things.
And God was there, steadfast, through it all.
Silence and struggle does not erase quiet, infinite care.
God bless you and yours, our friends, in your seasons of life.
In the end, these two things will give you a chance to flee.
But not really.
At your next recital or game or award ceremony or concert — or just even when you walk in the door from school with friends, these Mombies will be there. Yes, perhaps, slightly better dressed and maybe even hair and makeup done — but plain ol’ embarrassing Mombies they will always be.
Well, basically it’s the #truth until you become a Mombie yourself. And then we Mombies will buy you your very own T (shirt, that is).Welcome to the club!
DISCLAIMER: My children did not approve this picture or message. Both mortify them (smile and wink). Just doing my job, folks. Doing my job. #mombievictory
So, unless something super funny pops into my life in the near future or something that just hits me where I super feel it, you won’t be seeing too much of me on this page for some amount of seconds, days, weeks, months…I’m getting my writing on…chapter book style!
I am on chapter 2 of my first book for youth. It’s a lot harder than one would imagine. First of all, I gotta create a character those tweens want to read.
So far, my biggest of all my brood is my judge. I look to her, as she reads it, for her laughter or tears (ah-just kidding…no tears. yet!) and I especially hone in those moments when she raises her eyebrows in confusion.
The thing driving me crazy about an 11-year-old critic…she doesn’t understand that writing is writing and editing comes NEXT. She is over there correcting so many mistakes I wonder if she is even reading anything at all 😉
But—good news in the 11-year-old world—she sat next to me this evening and asked if I had written any more.
Whoop-whoop. Chalk that one up for the mom score!
When do I write this said book?
When my two littlest are at Polish preschool on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I have 2 hours of me time. Okay—that’s stretching it a bit far. It’s more like, take away the 50 interruptions, I have about 1 hour and 10 minutes to write.
I never knew my brain could work so fast.
Then, on occasions, when the brain isn’t in the fuzz-bucket, I try and write a bit when the stars come out and the snoring commences around the house.
Unfortunately for me, I am not a sharp-witted night owl anymore. Those days left me once I had #3.
My goal???? You may ask. Even if you don’t, I’ll let you know…
1 Chapter a week.
I have already scoured the net for all of those newbies looking for new authors, and found most are not interested in my super cute children’s books that I have written—but many are interested in chapter books for middle-agers.
We’ll see how this goes.
One of the sagest pieces of advice I read while checking out all of the peeps out there looking for writers:
Your first book is just that. Your first book. Keep writing. Edit. And write some more.
This wisdom brings me back to what my good ol’ ma and pa always said, “Try and then try some more.” Or “Try again”
In any and every case, you gotta begin somewhere. Today I choose to begin.
Therefore, unless life throws me a major hilarious curveball that just is a MUST for this blog, or I find some piece of psychological wisdom that is a MUST share for the sanity of parents … or if there is just too good to pass up cultural experience that lands in my lap—or I just feels (yes, I wrote feels as it was how I said it in my head) as if I must write to bring the lot to tears…
I hope to not see ya from here too much in this present day. No offense and hopefully none taken.
Here’s to words. Brain power. Creativity. And bringing imaginations to soaring heights…Or just simply entertaining kids because I love both of those things: kids; entertainment.
Best of all—through written words. Where they have to close their eyes to soar into their world of imaginations…
Which, as we all know, is the best way to fly!
Here’s to up,
If you’re not already following this blog, I hope that you’ll hit the follow button and join my journey—even if it will be randomly sporadic!