I used to think it was age that defined contentment. Now I realize it’s attitude.


I was certain once I hit 30 years of age I would be content.


Happy with life.

Life equals good equals no more looking for the outside to fulfill the inside.

I was certain that would be the case.

I was wrong.

I am about to hit 40 in a year.  So, I guess “about to” is a bit exaggerated.

Anyhow.  40 is around my corner.  A few miles off (or kilometers, depending on which side of the world you are reading this) and I have come to the beautiful conclusion that age does not bring about contentment.

Attitude most certainly does.

We continue to live in a rented home and I don’t have the Jeep that I really, really want.

My belly remains squishier than I desire.  My bank account smaller.

My bedroom doesn’t have a closet, and I really only fit in one pair of jeans.  Unless maternity jeans count.

And as I look at everything around me, I am just so plain content it’s crazy.

When I was younger, I was certain that life would begin at 16.  That is until I turned 16 and realized that life began at 18.  But then I turned 18 and realized life didn’t really begin until 21.  21 came and I was certain that adulthood began at 22, along with the disappearance of my acne.  Both didn’t occur.  Well, I guess I grew up a little, you know, getting a professional job and all…

But 22 came, and that is when I was 100% without a doubt certain 25 must be the age of magical, grown-up, beginning.  And, even though I was married and now living in a foreign country at 25, 25 just didn’t seem to be that age.  30…Finally with a baby in our life.  Nope.

But as I near 40…what many call “Over the Hill”…I smile.

And I look back 38 years and see.

I see the little girl that had a muddy, sand-filled, boy-chasing, big-mouthed childhood.  And I love looking there.

I look back to the awkward teenager, too skinny, with braces and absolutely horrendous hair.  Still a big mouth.  Rather athletically talented.  And I love looking there.

I look back to the young adult, still too skinny, sinking grades, tumor at the base of her brain, and dating a guy she might just possibly marry.  I look back to that girl that bought her first car with the help of her parents and the one that moved away and back home again.  I look back to those young adult years and I love looking there.

And then I look at my married years.  Exciting.  Fun.  Adventurous.  Hard.  Compromise?  Say what!?  Different country.  Poor as a church mouse.  No car.  Cold.  Walking everywhere.  Different.  And I love looking there.

30 came.  Ah beautiful 30.  I loved turning 30.  With 30 my body changed.  I finally graduated out of the child-size clothes.  I birthed a baby.  I matured emotionally.  And I love looking there.

And the rest of my 30s have gone by with so much trouble and heartbreak and success and excitement, it’s unbelievable how much less than a decade can cover.  And I look at it all.  The sadness and gladness.  The senseless and the secure.  And I realize I am different because of them all.  And I smile.

Even though I always thought that there was a magical age when contentment came and life changed, I learned I was wrong.  Age has nothing to do with any of it.  Attitude does.  That is what I was missing over the last 38 years.  The attitude of contentment.

I love my children’s hand-me-down clothes.  I love our rented house.  I love our 3 dogs—one being a ridiculously ugly farm mutt.  I love our small rooms and no closeted house.  I must admit, I am not in love with my stove nor stove fan (contentment is still obviously a work in progress in some areas, apparently 😉 ).

I love my husband and his graying hair and his endless wit.

I love my daughter despite her idiosyncrasies in being a child of 2 cultures and not much at all like her momma.

I love my son and all of his health issues and all of the money he costs us just to merely maintain his little lungs.

And I love my daughter, my youngest, that came in way too heavy, where I was cut open, and her cheeks that literally melted off of her little face.  The girl that smiles and wrinkles her nose.

Contentment.  It’s definitely not an age.  It is not an item.

Contentment.  It’s an attitude.

And I am glad that I finally got it right.

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 

Matthew 6:19-21

When you’ve tied your tubes and want another child…


You know, there is a time in your life that you come to. It is a delicate balance of wants and reality.

I am at that stage. Our youngest is now 10 months old. She is as cute as a button. She is just plain lovely. Literally plain lovely. She has the sweetest demeanor. We are definitely going out with a bang!

Yet, our hearts still cry out…another baby! Another baby! Another baby.

I think that there comes a time in your childbearing life when you still want more and yet your reality comes in and says to you, “Be grateful.”

That is where we find ourselves.

So utterly grateful. Beyond measure, really.

Grateful for the three amazing children that God has given us.

And happy. Oh man. I am so stinking happy that I am no longer pregnant.

My last 3 pregnancies were absolutely difficult. This last baby. This sweet and gentle spirit. At 30 weeks pregnant, my water basically was at the point of breaking and I was pretty much fully effaced. It was a rough remainder of a pregnancy. Yet we made it! Woot-woot.

But in the process of making it, we made a BIG decision. At 38 years of age, we were going to be grateful to God for the children that he delivered into our arms and quietly bow out of this game called pregnancy.

And hence, we tied our tubes.

Time’s up for the Nungesser Polish clan and their expansion plan 😉

Oh. Every single day since having our sweet and LARGE (10pounds, 10ounces at birth) Josephine, I feel better, can move more easily, and sleep more.

And as life becomes easier…My memory becomes less.

I forget how difficult my last 3 pregnancies were and how hard it was to bring Maxwell and Josephine into this world. And I begin to question our decision.

Tying our tubes? Was it right for us?

My sister-in-law told me once, “No matter if you have 1 child or 10, when it comes to the point that it is your last child, I think that there will always be something sad in your heart.”

And it is so true. There is a finality to tying tubes. To menopause. To realizing you are done…

So, now I am at the time in my life where I may feel wanting but I also feel grateful.

And overall contentment.

It doesn’t mean that the beautiful spirit of more children may never creep back into my heart or thoughts or desires, but as I sit typing this my youngest two (2 and 10 months—they are 19 months apart), sit on the floor near my feet playing choo-choo trains, and bear puzzles, and xylophone books. And Max just leaned over and patted Josephine’s back as she started to cough and said, “Okay, Gogo?” Because we call her Go-Go…Like a GoGo Squeezer.

And my heart beat fully.

Even with my tubes tied.

absolutely, without a doubt, the right perspective!


oh my dear friends. be prepared to laugh your way through this article i am about to share called give me gratitude or give me debt WHILE truly humbling your spirit and soul.

so many times since we have returned to poland i have GRUMBLED…GRUMBLED…GRUMBLED! believe me, i have just come from the land of mickey mouse—poland is a different life for me right now.

BUT this article brings up a hugely vivid conversation i had in our soup kitchen one day (our soup kitchen meaning our foundation’s soup kitchen: www.breadoflife.pl) with one of the volunteers.

setting: soup kitchen, basement of a church, around 2002 or 2003, poznan, poland.

we were preparing the food for the room full of homeless and elderly, very poor people (especially at that time in poland). it’s a very cold country, so not only was the warm food going to be a blessing but the warm atmosphere a godsend. and i was having a conversation with one of the brightest guys i know.  we’ll just call him mr. phd.  it was a time when poland was in the process of becoming an eu member (2004 they joined). and our conversation went like this:

“people in poland complain all of the time about how poor we are….but we are not poor. we have running water. we have electricity. so many around the world don’t even have those.  we are actually rich.”

now, the people we were serving were obviously not rich.

he wasn’t speaking of those.  he was speaking of the every day man or woman.  He was speaking of those that have but grumble about the “have nots“.

i have found myself being that grumbling person of late.  and it’s not a person that i like very much.

i would like to say that TODAY…today i am so thankful i read this post.  it’s brilliantly humorous with the perfect perspective attached to it.

and, today, after reading it, i hope that you, too, only worry about filling your kitchen with love.  love and dancing.  both simultaneously!

be prepared to laugh while humbling your spirit…

xoxo b

since glennon shared a peek into her kitchen, i will share a photo i took only two days ago (before i read this article) into my own kitchen.  hope you enjoy!

yes, my son, maxwell, in the diaper, was coloring in a book on the ground while eating a dry tortilla for lunch—which he also decided to decorate.  jojo sat in her chair for hours while i made pumpkin puree and apple sauce.  and adelyne…sweet adelyne made homemade play doh.  one recipe batch split into 6 colors.

so much fun in our kitchen!

now, here’s the article from Momastery just for you:

Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Debt!

also, for those of you that battle addictions, i think that you need encouragement from her about page.  Pretty awesome God:  About Glennon!

Get ready, Get set, Get the EGGS!


My daughter has grown up in Poland.  And, in Poland, we hunt Easter eggs like this:

There are 12 eggs and 4 kids hunting.  You each can find 3 eggs.  Bring them to me, dump the contents into your basket, I will refill them and rehide them.  Get ready.  Get set.  Go!

And the 4 kids run and hunt and find and dump and close their eyes so that we can do it all over again.  We have a blast and enjoy every moment.




We came back to the States.  There were a million eggs.  And a million kids hunting them.  And they didn’t stop at 4.  Or 40.  And hunting?  They were professionals.  Like the Daniel Boones of Easter Egg Hunts!

Then there was my daughter.

Wee.  Happily skipping.  Slowly moving.  Lightly looking.

And there we sat…Or stood…Or sweated…

Look for the eggs, Adelyne!  Get going!  There’s one right above your head!  Don’t you see it?  There’s another below your foot!  Yikes!  They took it.  Grab the egg!  Fast!  Adelyne…GRAB THE EGG!

And while we were shouting, sweating, and stressing…all eggs in relatively close proximity were promptly and deftly swiped—by professional egg hunting children.  My daughter, her Easter basket bare yet her spirit full.

That’s when I learned…

We have grown up in two worlds.  We, my husband and I, in America.  My daughter in Poland.

We have grown up as eager, aggressive Easter egg hunters.

My daughter as a “Yea, this is fun!  Look, I have 4 eggs!” kind-of-child.

Two worlds.  One family.  And, in the end, all that really matters is this:

She had fun!

Oh, and technically, she doesn’t really like candy.  So all of that candy we sweated about her grabbing—she never ate and we threw out anyway.

Sweated for nothing, eh?

Parents, sometimes we are the death of our children.  Especially their spirits of contentment.

And, so, this year, I will do the following:

Fill the eggs

Hide the eggs

Prepare my camera


Remember to just have fun.

After all, Easter Egg Hunts should be just that…

A big bunny that hides eggs ridiculous amounts of non-sweating fun—while remembering to let our daughter be the kid that she likes to be.

The kid with 4 eggs at the end of the Easter-egg day!


Take some time to link in to the following Easter posts written by fellow Poland-living bloggers like myself:  Easter Blog Fun!

Why you, Mommy, should surrender to your pirates.

My life.  Pirated.  All the way.

Gangplank.  I’m on it.  I turn, slowly, back to face the ship and its crew, and I see them.

The pirates.  All larger than life and ferocious.


Okay.  Okay.

They’re little and cute.

And their giggles are high-pitched.  And their singing is out of tune.  And their smiles would melt the staunch-iest of staunchest Scrooge’s heart.

Yet they are daily in my life.  Turning it inside out and upside down.

Let me give you two examples:  Books; Baths.

Before I was ever a mommy, my most favorite things in the whole wide world were books and baths.  And, best of all, a good book while taking a long, lounging bath.  With bath salts.  With bubbles.  With candles and dim lighting.  All night just to soak, smile, and enjoy.

But as I stand on that gangplank and look back at those little pirates, I am reminded about two things.  Two of their favorite things:  Books; Baths.

While I have Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline on my nightstand, I have these on my couch:


They take up an entire sitting space.  But not too much space that a little one-year-old can’t squeeze next to the books and climb excitedly in my lap.

Then we pick up the books, often the same, repetitively, and read with great excitement Tumble BumbleThe Big Red BarnLittle Blue TruckRoom on the Broom-just to name a few.  We read them.  Daily.  With great excitement.  And I get as excited as Maxwell when he spies a duck for the gazillionth time and says “Quack, quack.”  Or when he picks up Tumble Bumble and yells, with his pacifier teeming on the tongue of his mouth, “Tumble, tumble!” Which then leads me into a practical poetry recitation of the book, throwing my arms up at the end and yelling, “Hooray” alongside my little pirate, diapered-bottom boy!

Adelyne.  Well, let’s put this in a Brooke equation:  Adelyne + Books = What?

Let’s just say, Adelyne plus books equals nearly a half million words read in one semester of school.  You should know that she just barely left her 7th year 3 weeks ago.  Yep.  I need not say Adelyne loves books as much as momma.  But I should say that she possibly loves them more.

Therefore, if my book, Orphan Train, stays shelved for months yet to come but their books are daily unearthed, read, and spines on books such as The Bobbsey Twins, How to Eat Fried Worms, and Diaries of a Wimpy Kid are opened and bent and worn and loved, then so be it!  My book can sit a little longer and gather dust as long as their books are thrown wildly into the air, caught, and read, allowing them to escape into another adventure of their imaginations.

I love books.  And now my children love books.

The pirates can have my time.  And my books.  Any day.

But let’s move along to baths…

Ah.  Baths are the perfect invention for relaxation.  How did I not realize that they would be stripped from me the moment our first child, Adelyne, cannonballed into our lives?  Hmmm.  I guess I am a little slow on some things.

But looking back, while standing on the gangplank, memories flash through my mind.  One of the latest baths by my two little pirates.  The waves were enormous, frothing, and cascading.  But my pirates stayed afloat with giggles.  They had pirated my bath but opened the treasure chest of my heart.  And they just seemed to be having way too much fun.  Their daddy took the bubbles in his hand, lifted his lips near them, tilting his head northernly and blew.  Bubbles were sent cascading into the air while the two naked, bathing pirates shouted, “Snow!  Snow!”  Lifting bubbles to their lips and doing the same.

Bubble snow, naked babies, giggles, and memories.  Invaluable valuables that are irreplaceable.  Especially as Mother Time continues to tick.  Every second of every minute of every hour of every day, refusing to stop for anyone or anything.

Therefore, my baths.  They can pirate them at any moment of any day.  Gladly!


Pirates.  Standing on the gangplank of mommyhood and looking at the boat of pirate children in front of me, I have come to the conclusion that if the gangplank means that I sacrifice what I once loved most to give those same things to those I love most, then I’ll walk that gangplank and give up everything.  Everything but love.

Mommies, I challenge you to do the same thing, too.

Walk the plank.  You’ll be glad you do.

Hidden Bookshelves: Poland…And when we first arrived.

When we first arrived in Poland, it was evening.  Our director picked us up in Warsaw and then we took the very long and torturous ride 7 hours back to the city where we would be living, Poznan.

The thing is, Warsaw is technically only about a 3-hour-drive from Poznan.  But back in 2001, the roads were mostly 2-lanes and big lorries and lots of small cars that it didn’t matter how rich or important you were (no, we were not rich nor important), it was going to take you 7 hours to drive approximately 195 miles.

And so we arrived to our first “home” in Poland around 3 in the morning.

I remember it very clearly.  We drove down a very dark street and went through a very dark tunnel and emerged into a very bumpy parking area.

Huge gray walls surrounded us on all sides.

On the building closest to us a large spray of art was decorating the walls with the very colorful language “F (you can spell the rest) the Police!”

We took it all in.

We were 25 years old and full of great spirits of adventure.  In fact, we probably thought—Awesome!  We live in the ghetto.  Can’t get any better than this.

Again—25.  No kids.  Full of adventure.

We grabbed all of our luggage and followed our director to a broken door that we entered through.  If we thought the outside was scary-the inside was just as uniquely dangerous.

We tried to find the lights.

Finally successful in our search for light, we began the trek up the stairs to our first apartment—4 flights up.  We had to stop and hit the lights at every level because they kept going out on us.

And then we came to our door.

Our door was just as run down as the rest of the building, so we didn’t hold out too much hope for the other side.

When we entered, though, it was lovely.

It was old.  It was about 100 years old (the building).  But the inside of our new home “flat-mieszkanie-apartment” was pleasantly warm and inviting.

I am not sure that the decorations had changed since the days of Communism.

Our phone was large and stationary and orange.  And it didn’t ring.  It went “Grrrrr.  Grrrrrr. Grrrrr,” when someone would call.  The first time we heard it, we had no idea where the noise was coming from or if we should be concerned.  But eventually we followed the noise to the large orange box that turned out to be a telephone.

Again—even the smallest things, like phones, were adventures!

And, four flights up we had a piano in our flat.  A piano!  We later asked our landlord how he got a piano up four flights of stairs into our flat (you would have to see our stairwell to know that it was not possible to get the piano up that way—picture Ross from Friends and his “Pivot!” couch.  Well, this was even more of an impossibility).  He said that they had to take out the windows and then pull it up.  Four flights.

Another adventure!

And then we had huge curtains that hung from the floor to the ceiling.  And behind them were hidden bookcases.  I was informed that “banned” reading materials used to make their homes on the bookshelves behind what appeared were merely curtains for the windows.

I felt as if I had traveled back in time.  Except—we were there 12 years after the Wall had actually fallen.

We heard stories—so many stories.  But I’ll share more of those another day of what it was like to live through the times of Communism.

Our respect for Poland and the people of Poland intensified a hundred-million fold.

Standing in line for hours, as a child, to simply receive a pair of shoes that may or may not fit…It was something inconceivable to me.  And yet, it took place merely a decade before.

One friend told us that it didn’t matter what was being distributed.  If there was a line, you dropped what you were doing and stood in it because, even if you did not need it or could not use it, you could use it for bartering or trading with someone that might.

One of my most vivid memories of stories told was when our director told us that during the Christmas season everyone would wait for the announcement on the radio that brought the great news…No, not of the Savior’s birth!  That was already known—but the news that the boat was making its way with fresh citrus to arrive in time for Christmas.  Oranges.   Fresh oranges.  And how precious that cargo was.

From the moment I arrived in Poland, I realized that my spirit would not only learn to become humbled or more content…But I realized that I had a lot to learn about appreciating everything.  Even the smallest of items.  Like an orange.

A funny story we were told, and of course it was shared jovially with us, was that during one season toilet paper became scarce.  And so they said you could always tell who had or had not according to their gait.

And, of course, we all laughed as stories were being shared.  But I knew that every story told came with the history that at the time of the actual event, it probably wasn’t funny.

It made me appreciate the country even more.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Moving to any country as a foreigner is very difficult.  And so we were not always whistling joyful tunes in Poland.  Often times we were also stumbling around with angry pouts because it was so hard sometimes to even accomplish the simplest of things.

But that’s part of adventure, right?

The neighborhood where we lived didn’t have a grocery store nearby.  Only small skleps (stores, except I added the s at the end…I English-ized sklep ;)).  Our shopping took place like this:  meat store for warm meat.  (Dear Lord, please keep us healthy after eating said meat)  Bakery for fresh goods.  Little spozywczy for other necessities and butter and yogurt.  The store, however, was so small that it was impossible to maneuver through safely.  I am not a large woman and yet I would always manage to hit a yogurt or a jar of pickles or something and knock it down.  And, of course, get charged for it.  Forget the fact that the yogurts were stacked 12 high and to even take the top yogurt had the “Jenga” effect…Would it topple?  Would it not?  Every time I went shopping I wondered how successfully I would pull items from the shelves.

More often than not, I was not successful.

But it was even at these small stores where I was able to witness the beauty of simplicity.

You see, like oranges, chocolates were also special during the days when the Wall separated the East from the West.  And it was on one of my many shopping trips that I saw a little babcia (grandma), probably in her 80s, buying a simple chocolate bar.

And then she asked the shopkeeper to wrap it for her.

You have to understand that the neighborhood we lived in was not under any circumstances a wealthy neighborhood.  People lived very simply and had very, very little.

And to watch this precious babcia buy a candy bar, I knew came at a great expense to her.  After all, we are only 12 years after the fall of the Wall.  That is not a long time, folks.

And the shopkeeper was so happy to help her.

She took the candy bar and found some wrapping paper and took her time wrapping it as if it were the most priceless item to be found.

And the babcia put her treasure in her little, worn handbag and pulled out her coin purse, dumped the coins in her hand, and the shopkeeper counted out the coins owed.

The babcia left with her treasure and a huge smile on her face.

I left shopping that day with a warm heart and an even greater appreciation for simple joys.

Yes, when we arrived in Poland, in the dark, through the daunting tunnel, into the pot holes and dirt lot with the graphic writing on the walls, I had no idea that it would be in this same dirty neighborhood that I would see such beauty.

And that beauty is called contentment.

And that beauty is called simplicity.

And that beauty made up for the lack of anything we thought we may or may not be missing.

And that, my friends, was one of the most profound lessons I have learned in my life.


Our first neighborhood in Poland…

No, we didn’t take a photo in front of the “decorative” poetic  wall


Believe it or not, at one time we actually had 5 people in a little Maluch-

4 of the 5 were guys!  I was the only gal stuck in there.


More coal living…Except I didn’t have to shovel this coal. 

It was brought down to the basements and then was shoveled throughout the day

so that the apartments in the building would have hot water and warm radiators.


Don’t worry, I’ll come back with more experiences at a later date.  There is still so much to share.