November 21, 2014

Through her eyes

Sometimes I wonder what she thinks. A level and lovely Chinese child with politely reserved eyes and a penchant for stir fry, being raised by a blond and blotchy mother with direct hazel eyes, dry white hands, and buttery food.

And then, I take her to class with me on a drizzly day in November because her dad is out of town and her brothers want to watch Star Wars (and she would rather ride with me through the city on my moped than watch Han Solo flirt with princess Leia one more time), and she takes a picture of me that sort of stops me in my tracks.
When I got home from class that day and looked at this picture she had taken unbeknownst to me, I wondered if perhaps she likes me, really likes me, after all. Maybe she is proud of me for trying to learn the language of her people. Maybe she wants to be like me. Maybe she is glad that I am her mother.

Or maybe she was just fooling with the camera setting on the iPad because she got tired of playing with the Fancy Nancy app.

Either way, I will always treasure this little photo. It is a picture of me through the eyes of my daughter, and I like what she sees.

November 18, 2014

How grocery shopping in East Asia is like natural childbirth

You move slowly and deliberately, taking care to breathe evenly and stay relaxed. The experience is crushing you, twisting you, threatening to break you in half, but the second you give in to it, you know you will lose it completely. You try to ignore the urges, however strong they might be, to throw back your head and scream like a wild animal. You soldier through, strongly and calmly, heroically even, until finally you are headed home with your baby in your arms - or your bags of groceries, whichever the case may be.

These are frozen beef steaks. As you can see, steak is strongly associated with the United States. A complimentary piece of Western cutlery is included in your purchase, because steak is difficult to eat with chopsticks;)

But enough about labor pains and grocery shopping. How about Brave learning to ride a two-wheel bike! I don't think I'm going to allow Jubi to learn. I can't have ALL my babies growing up on me.

Zion fell from the bunk bed and suffered a studly shiner. We're just so thankful his glasses didn't shatter into his eye!

Zion also celebrated his half birthday. We Rupps are always on the lookout for a reason to bake (and eat) cake.

And Gene has started looking older in the face. I am getting glimpses of what he will look like as a man and it makes me smile.

November 11, 2014

Instant messages of love

I'm not usually a fan of technology. In fact, I often idealize the times when neighbors caught up at the mailbox, friends caught up in church foyers, and acquaintances exchanged pleasantries while waiting in line at the checkout. When telephones rang only when there was something to say. When letters came handwritten, blotted in places with liquid whiteout, tri-folded and slid into envelopes with human saliva in their seals and real stamps on their lapels boasting images of wild flowers, lighthouses, and poets.

But this week I've appreciated technology, particularly instant message. That little blip sound signaling a message from someone back home; a message of sorrow, a message of peace, or a detail about the visitation, the service, the burial. More messages than I deserve have come through expressing love and encouragement for me, simply because I can't be there. Words from my brothers like, "hang in there," "wish you could be here," "thoughts of you," and "love you so much." And my words to them, "I just woke up. Are you at the visitation?" "I miss you all so much," "I just talked to Mom," "Gosh I love you guys."

Cousin love, taken at Marcy and Jerry's in 2002: Diana, Denny, Marcy, Randy, and Sandy

November 08, 2014


A few nights ago my beautiful Aunt Sandy (far right) went to bed, as we all do. Before falling asleep she more than likely, as we all do, replayed in her mind the events of another day - the good, the bad, the finished, and the unfinished. Soon enough she fell asleep, and then after a time she woke up, but not in her bed. My aunt wouldn't wake up again on this earth. She rests now in the warmth of Heaven.

Sandy Post was only 64 years old when a massive stroke took her from us in her sleep, just a few weeks before Thanksgiving in the year 2014. She felt no pain. She felt no worry. Aside from being decades too soon, it was a pleasant way to leave the earth. But pleasant is not how we are feeling.

Tragedy is completely unlike any other facet of the human experience. There is daily life, with its potholes and rain showers, layoffs, weight gain, financial strain, migraines. And then a day comes when my mother's only sister and best friend, Sandy, dies in the night. Out of nowhere Uncle Chris (second from left) becomes a widower, with his health and retirement years ahead of him. My four cousins are left to finish their adult lives without their mother. Grandkids have lost their grandmother. Uncle Randy and my mom have lost their sister. My brothers and cousins and I have lost our aunt. And my grandmother has lost her firstborn child. Tragedy leaves so much brokenness in its wake.

Yesterday I spoke with my grieving grandmother on a video call. She saw my face over the miles, and I hers, and we both began to weep. As a mother, I can't imagine what she must be going through. But even trying to imagine brings me to my knees with sorrow.

"I'm sorry," I said to her. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

She cried. I cried.

"I'm sorry that your daughter died, Grandma."

She cried. I cried. And there was nothing else to say.

November 03, 2014

When life brings heavy rains

There were no pumpkins this year on account of the rains.

But the Rupp kids are a creative bunch. A glass-half-full bunch, a trait they clearly got from their dad. So it didn't surprise me to find this when I woke up on Halloween morning (the kids had been awake for a while already, using up every last scrap of our orange construction paper from America).

Soon after this picture was taken, the kids "picked" these pumpkins and made them into jack-o-lanterns. I put the jack-o-lanterns on display atop the hutch, in front of Daddy's birthday cards from last month which I'm not yet ready to throw away.

Later that evening, it was time for the padawan, the skeleton, the ninja, and Wylde Style from The Lego Movie to emerge.

Then it was time to join the rest of the troupe.

And go trick-or-treating along the street.

Now it's one piece of candy after every meal until we've worked our way through every last White Rabbit, Ouishi, LeConde, and Sugus in the bag. Our candy stash probably looks a bit different from yours. In fact, do me a favor and eat a box of Nerds for me (and a Bit-O-Honey, a Mounds bar, a Milkyway, a watermelon Jolly Rancher, and one of those little yellow boxes of Milk Duds.)

October 26, 2014

seven kids

Our besties John and Alisa took off for a long weekend, and we got to keep their kids! With a long summer behind them, a busy fall upon them, and baby #4 due in the spring, they needed some serious R&R.

And we needed a humbling, tumbling weekend with seven children in our care. xoxo