Our 2015 Wish For You!


from our family to yours…happy new year! Szczęśliwego nowego roku!

this is what we wish for you…

we wish you a beginning of 2015 that is god-guided. and a daily wellspring of grace.

may your 2015 be filled with humility and love. may your 2015 be filled with forgiveness and joy. may your 2015 be filled with opportunity and energy.

may your hands and hearts and feet be willing to go forth and help those in need!
may your smile be abundantly bright!
and may the peace that stills your heart be the beat needed to encourage your daily walk in life.

god bless you, our friends!

richard and brooke nungesser and our crew of adelyne, maxwell, and josephine

As 2014 comes to a close, did you miss anything?


I’ve been off trying to become a Christmas Viking in Norway. I failed. The caviar that was spread on bread was just not my cup of tea. On the other hand, I did hike all the way up a very snow-covered trail carrying a two-year-old for most of the path in my not-made-for-snow boots while passing an old Viking burial plot along the way.

Does that make me Viking enough? Probably not.

But the carrying a two-year-old should for sure get me an honorable mention, right?!

Here’s a fun photo, however, of my husband.  He helped when my arms were about to fall off!  He most certainly is the man 😉

heading up the mountain


As I watch the dates on the calendar fly away at warp speed, I reflect back upon the last year.  And it is with this rear view that I see it all.

2014 marked for us a year of finality and survival.  It was a year marked with death and once again new beginnings.  2014.  It was a beautiful year that gave us no rest.

And this is what I learned about myself this past year as I ask myself the question, “Did I miss anything?”

The answer is yes.  Always.  And with some regret.

But as I look back upon 2014, I see great news!

I see Rich and I celebrating our 2 years of surviving our marriage after I was ready to call it quits!  So it is as if we celebrated 2 anniversaries this year.  14 years of marriage and 2 years of keeping our marriage.  I think that both Rich and I are better and changed people.  And we have a deeper understanding of one another.  A deeper respect.  And a far deeper love.  We are a better couple.  A more respectful couple.  And even better parents.

I see that when you go through valleys that means there are mountains to climb.  And when you summit the peak, it’s a glorious view that surrounds you.  It’s 360.  And it’s complete.  And you are far closer to heaven.

That is our marriage, and I will only speak for myself when I say—I am so happy to celebrate 14 years and 2 years with my husband this past 2014!


In 2014, I see a little baby that sprang forth from my belly.  A baby that was never really little to begin with (10 pounds 10 ounces at birth).  Our baby finale.  And boy, what a bang we went out with, our sweet Josephine.  Although we tied our tubes and still want a million more children, we are enjoying every single moment relishing the final baby pitter patter steps, cries, and sleepless nights.  We are enjoying the morning calls to rise and the cuddles in our arms.  We often allow her to fall asleep in our arms and just hold her for near to an hour after.  We can’t believe the gift of this surprise little Josephine Diane.  And we love every red hair on her head—even as they are fading to a strawberry blond!


I see a daughter.  A brave, warrior daughter willing to move back to a country that was once the only home she knew.  And then she didn’t know.  And she had to reenter in a language that was foreign.  And hard.  And enter a grade where she no longer has the opportunity to not speak and read and write in the language.  Our fearless daughter took a machete and made the way for our family.  My husband and I were sick to our stomachs to move her away from her cousins and aunties and uncles and across the world to a land vastly different from where we were.  And our daughter.  She plowed forward.  With trepidation?  Perhaps.  And yet with determination.  She spent countless hours studying the language.  And countless more inserting herself into the lives of long but not forgotten friends.  Hand motions and sounds were the friends she had when we arrived back in Poland.  And Google Translate.  And hours upon hours of slow, treacherous, painful homework.  And now, 6 months later, she sits in front of me with her best friend.  Rambling in this difficult language (Polish).  And the only English word I have heard out of her mouth in the past 3 hours was “Oh!  Zobacz!  Broccoli!”  As she and her friend play Skylanders Giants.  This firstborn of mine is my greatest Sensei.  And Richard and I thank God daily for Adelyne’s fearless spirit!

ada and dadda christmas in norway

My son.  My beautiful baby that conquered death a couple times over.  He turned 2 in 2014.  And we finally had his baby dedication—albeit as a toddler.  But, you know, when you spend the majority of your baby life in and out of hospitals, toddler dedication it does become.  And we have finally seen him go from the never healthy baby boy to a boy that runs and jumps and plays.  I used to have panic attacks out of fear of him getting sick.  And now I realize that I can finally breathe.  My boy.  My boy with an old grandpa name.  My Max.  He is beautiful.  And feisty.  And sweet.  And fun.  He loves his sisters.  He loves swords.  He loves popcorn.  And he loves his sister’s Barbies.  He loves waking up every morning and saying, “Good morning, Mommy!  Good morning, Daddy!  Good morning, Sissy!  Good morning, GoGo!”  It’s as if he knows each morning is a gift and a good morning.  Because every morning alive IS a great morning.  Our Max.  I pray for the direction of his life one day because I know that he will represent God greatly!  Our Miracle Maxwell—2014 brought 2 years of life to him.  Hard.  Fought.  Life.  And now it’s time for Max to live freely.  I am glad to enter into 2015 with Maxwell as our middle!

outside of ciocia's house


Did I miss anything in 2014?  As I ended 2013, I challenged all of us at And 2 Makes Crazy to enter 2014 with JOY—Jesus over you!  And I think.

Did I do that?  Finish 2014 with JOY?  Jesus Over Me?

And I have come to this conclusion…

JOY is not a 365-day-challenge.  It is a thousand-year-challenge.  And, of course, by then I’ll be long gone.  But the thing about it is, as each day I choose to enter it with JOY, I enter it full of the grace of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  I enter it filled with peace and know that with Him I can do anything.

2014 was a beautiful gift wrapped in colors of all emotions.

And now, 2015 is ringing in all around me with fireworks in all of their clanging splendor.

Reflecting upon 2014, I wonder.  Did I miss anything?

If I did.  It’s too late.  2015 is now here.  And there is nothing I can do about the past.

And so I must look forward to the future.  That’s where I see endless possibilities and great hope.  With my God.  With my husband.  With my family.  And with my work.

Therefore, I smile brightly as I enter 2015…

From the hearts of my family to yours, God bless you, And 2 Makes Crazy Readers.  Enter 2015 with just as much JOY as before…

Happy New Year…Szczęśliwego nowego roku!


Brooke, Richard, Adelyne, Maxwell, and Josephine


The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.  Great is Your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

My daughter punked me today. Robin Williams would be proud.


My daughter punked me today, and I believe the comedian that the world just lost would be proud.

But before we get to her stunt, I would like to say:


Health failings






They don’t have one face.  They don’t have the face of only the homeless man or woman living under the bridge.

They don’t have the face of only the man or woman living in an institution of white walls.

They don’t have the face of only the misfit teenager that everyone belittles.

Darkness has no barriers.  It has no popularity barriers.  It has no economic barriers.  It has no gender barriers.  It has no age barriers.

Darkness resides in this world in utterly devastating ways.

I remember clearly our church in all of its surprise and devastation when an utterly beautiful mom of a devoted husband and gorgeous children took her own life in her garage one day.

It will forever haunt me seeing my classmate walk after school to wrestling, only to wake up the following day to reports that he took his own life that very night of the last day that I watched him walk away, locking eyes and sharing a smile.

And I will, until the day I die, never forget the beautiful friend of my precious brother that ended his battle too young-watching someone grow before your eyes from kid to teenager to adult attending friends weddings.  And then death.  Too tragic.  Too young.

Yes, darkness.  Darkness my friends takes over.  It takes over minds, hearts, thoughts.  It takes over lives, marriages, jobs.

Darkness is very real in this world and you can’t buy your way into happiness.

How is it then that it can be battled because Christians and those that don’t believe in God both lose to this evil thing?

For that, I have no answer.  Families that have lost their loved ones to such evil often cry out with the same questions.  How is it that someone that is loved so much cannot think that they can pull themselves up and out of this battle and survive?

They can.  And yet it must seem at the time when they lose the battle that they don’t see any light.  Any tunnel.  Any hope.

They are probably more tired than words.

And their mind battles demons that no one knows.

Often we are so envious of the beautiful lady—yet we don’t know why she tries so hard.

We are so envious of the perfect body—yet we don’t know why she works so hard.

We are so envious of the bank account of our neighbor’s—but we don’t know at what cost to his own family.

We are so envious of the funniest—but we don’t know why they laugh so much.

We are so envious of the smartest—but we don’t know why they know so much.

The majority of the times, it is a natural drive and self confidence that keeps people going and doing and being the way that they are.

But there are those times when those that we envy are who they are to hide what they are battling…

Darkness invades.

I often wonder if my son died if I would be overcome with darkness.  A darkness too deep that I would not be able to recover.  And I think that I wouldn’t.  But I don’t know.

What do I know then?  I do know that in all of the despair and the darkness that is battled, there is a light, Jesus Christ.

Will everyone that believes overcome darkness?  Perhaps on this side of life, the answer is no.  But there is an eternal light through Jesus that means on the other side of life, the answer is yes.

The thing is—Jesus does not want anyone before his or her time.  And that, unfortunately, is what suicide is.  It is leaving this darkness before your time.  Leaving your family before your time.  And leaving your work before your time.  It is a finality to life that wasn’t yet meant to end.

It’s a silent subject and oh so sad.

It’s not discussed much in church.  Suicide.  It’s only delicately reported in the news.  Suicide.  And movies often make only the most extreme outcast the one most likely to commit it.  Suicide.

But this darkness does not only attack those on the outskirts of what we label society (and, truly, who are we to label society’s outskirts)…It resides in the biggest of mansions or the smallest of homes.

And it must be discussed.  Because it is a battle.  A dark and dangerous and lonely battle that needs to be fought.  For the person fighting it.  For the family living it.  And for the rest of the world that may enter into it.

But in any and all cases, those that lose their battle to this darkness need to also be remembered in their light.

For they, too, lived a life.  And, Robin Williams, he lived a life that brought a lot of joy to millions around the world.

How we all wish we could have brought him the same joy.

But, alas, as still as time may seem for those closest to him mourning this devastating loss, the world turns.  And now it’s the world’s turn to speak out and battle and fight for those like Robin Williams.  Those that put on a happy face.  A face that is the facade to the darkness that clouds the hidden mind.

I pray for you if you are in this battle.  Find help.  And realize that you can overcome.  Bring your battle to light and allow God to be your northern star and those around you to be your mates.  Your life is not done.  Your time has not come.  Your finality of death is not meant for now.  God is not done with you yet!

Phillipians 1:6 (NLT) reads,

“He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the Day of Jesus”.

And, now, today, as Robin Williams brought laughter to the world, my daughter, very unaware of the death of Genie, brought great laughter to me as she punked my very being.

“Hey, Mom!  I got your toothbrush ready for you!”

Now, normally, I would be a great skeptic.  But my daughter has displayed tremendous amounts of great help in the past few weeks.  Perhaps she has known that Mommy needed it in this foreign land of Poland as we have lived without Daddy nearby or running water every evening for over a month.  Perhaps she knew I have needed her extra grace, as moving to a foreign country with 3 children and 2 of them 2 and under requires much more coffee and much more sunshine than a usual day.

Perhaps she did it this morning, got my toothbrush ready, because she knew I was up at the crack of dawn doing the MOST DISGUSTING THING EVER…giving 3 dogs flea baths.

Yes, I said and admitted it.  Giving our dogs flea baths.  Disgusting fleas.  Disgusting dogs.  Disgusting job.

And here I was, you will have to picture it because I will not offer cyberspace a photo of it…in my bathing suit (remember I only had a baby 7 months earlier ;)), and a shower cap, latex gloves, and my husband’s flip flops—because I was not about to go out in my cute shoes and ruin them…

Perhaps, yes, today of all days, as we prepared the kids to go to Polish and French lessons, perhaps today my daughter was just being kind.

And there in the bathroom were our toothbrushes.  Her dad’s and mine.  Laid out.  On the counter.  With toothpaste on them and even the tube of toothpaste lying haphazardly on the sink next to them.

Nothing, absolutely nothing out of the ordinary.  Except the fact that she did prepare our toothbrushes.

But I trusted my daughter and said in my mind, “I shall appreciate this kind gesture…”

And I began to brush my teeth.

Bubbles upon bubbles upon bubbles sudsed out of my mouth as the taste of toothpaste was overtaken by the underlying taste of liquid white soap.

Yes…My daughter is so proud.  She punked me.  And it did make me laugh.

For in this world, in this short, short world in this speck of existence that we call life, we need all the laughter we can get…

Even if it comes with the taste of toothpaste.

RIP, Robin Williams.  You will be missed.

News articles related to his death:


NY Times

Fox News


Huff Post

Planting the Stinky…


(image found on muppet.wikia.com)

The other day on Sesame Street, there was an episode when the stinkweed could not “grow” his flower because he was too stressed out about the upcoming flower show competition.  In fact, no matter what he did, his flower would not grow and bloom until some random famous person sat next to him and sang him a song about how “he’s unique”.  And, after repeating this mantra several times to himself, he bloomed and ended up winning the show!

Of course, once his flower bloomed and he won, his smell came out.  And boy was it stinky.

Everyone was so surprised that something so “beautiful” could be so “stinky”.

Isn’t that like much of life around us?

We work so hard for something to grow that we “KNOW” should be beautiful and perfect and the “just needed” addition to our life.  But when it does bloom, it actually smells worse than what we imagined?

Now, of course, this wasn’t the point behind the Sesame Street skit.  Stinky is beautiful reigned there.

But in life.

Sometimes we water the things we should not.  Sometimes we encourage the things we should not.   Sometimes we grow the things we should not.

And they grow.

And they bloom.

And they thrive.

Because we, the gardeners, have watered and tended to them.

Unfortunately, when they bloom, they stink.

And then we’re stuck.

We’re stuck with stinkweeds.

We’re stuck with invaders…Invited invaders.

And we’re stuck with more work now than before.

Because we don’t want these stinkweeds to stay.

So we go back.  We weed.  We make sure that we don’t just cut the top but pull the roots.

And then we spray.

And then we pray.

We wait.  Hoping that these weeds are gone.

And we prepare to plant again.

Or we leave the soil barren.  After all, the last time it was a lot of work and it was a massive “stink bomb”!

This story has a moral, and it’s this:

You are unique.  You don’t need Sesame Street to sit next to you, singing you a song.  There is a God that created you to be one of a kind.

And it’s up to you and you alone what kind of garden you tend.

Will you purchase seeds of discontent?  Seeds of destruction?  Seeds of ugly?

And will you water them, tend to them, and grow them…

Having later to go back and weed.

Or leaving you in the exhausted position of surrender-surrounded by the weeds or barren soil.  Tired.  Afraid to try again.

Or will you pause before you garden.  And think.

Is this good for me?

Does this belong, here, in my life?

Will this be a beautiful addition to me?

And then you plant carefully, wisely, and strategically…

If you are being choked out by weeds, may God help you garden.  May you take the time you need to rest, and then may you replant…this time a garden of beauty instead of ashes.

If you have not planted yet, then take the time to think.

Is this the kind of garden I want in my life.  Will this bring me beauty?  Or heartache?

And then tend carefully to your blooms.  Because gardens are fragile.

Like our hearts.

Like our lives.

Don’t plant the stinky.  You are too good for that.

My new Chevy Camaro!

Yes, I am Richard, the husband of the wonderful Brooke.  Yes, I will attempt to write on her blog this week.  Notice the word attempt…I’ll do my best. 

I could not have asked for a better wife, friend, partner, and lover.  Brooke, I love you. 

And yes, you read it right…my new Chevy Camaro!  Here are the pictures to prove it:



Okay, now that I have your attention.  And, yes, like all dreams, we have to wake up and return the car to its rightful owner. 

I don’t really own a Chevy Camaro, but, if anyone ever wanted to donate one, I would be happy to get you your tax deduction ;).

This past weekend my daughter Adelyne and I traveled to see my grandmother (my mother’s side of our family) who is 92-years-old in Sacramento, California.  She is my last living grandparent by blood (Brooke has one grandparent left on her side of the family too).  We were also able to visit the “Ranch” in Placerville, California where our great, great grandparents settled back in 1856.  Gold Rush and Gold Fever ran rampant through parts of California, especially in Placerville. 

In fact, there is still gold in them there hills! 

It was so much fun taking Adelyne to see and experience a lot of my childhood memories of where I grew up playing with and being loved by such great and awesome grandparents. 

I would have to say that my grandparents are gold.  So precious and so rare to have had the opportunity to even know them.  They are legendary!

I took Adelyne through her great-grandparents’ house on the ranch on Saturday.  We walked to the back of the house where the master bedroom was located.  Adelyne turned on the light and looked into their closet.  She saw some of her great-grandmother’s dresses and started to proclaim, “Wow…Wow…Wow…WOW!  These dresses are so beautiful.  Dad, why didn’t she take these to heaven?”

I love the innocence of a child.  I proceeded to remind Adelyne that we couldn’t take anything to heaven.  Once we die, nothing material that we have will come with us (not even a Camaro).

But the one thing that we can take with us is the hope that one day our children, families, friends, neighbors, and even strangers will hear and accept the hope that we have in Jesus. 

Take the time today to be bold and talk about the hope that you have in Jesus.  It just might be legendary to your children, grandchildren, and beyond. 

And, then, you may hear…

“There is God in them there hills,” they will say!


Here Adelyne is panning for gold with her cousin Grace

(Cousin Andrew’s leg also made an appearance)