June 24, 2016

Seven years of Brave-ry

He tells me almost every day, "You're the BEST mama." I smile and kiss the dimple in his left cheek, or bury my face in his thick brown hair, or look into his puppy-dog eyes the color of wet stones, and I say, "You are the BEST Brave Ransom."

I love my third son. His butter-toned skin is always soft, like his dad's. His big hands are strong for a kid, so that he gives better back rubs than his dad. His favorite five things on this planet are his parents and siblings. He really would rather that I never be out of sight. Daddy has super powers, as far as he's concerned. Math and music are his strengths in school, while running and pummeling are his strengths outside. He is big-hearted, big-boned, and a huge goofball.

He makes decisions quickly and with conviction. He protects people, especially his beloved "twin" sister Jubilee. He watches the faces of those around him, looking for signs of happiness. Then he breaks into a dimpled grin when he sees it.

Seven years ago this month, Brave came into the world, quickly and with conviction. I thank G0D for blessing my life with Brave-ry.

His brothers stayed up late the night before his birthday, adding reptile scales to the "7" on his poster.

Little Rupps looking on as presents are opened on Brave's birthday morning. All eight bare feet on a single bench...be still my heart.

Reading the back of the box is seeeerious business.

Zion is pumped about this particular gift (I think it adds to a collection of some sort).

Siting-in the new gun.



And then there was the night-swimming birthday party in the neighborhood pool, complete with water-squirter party-favors, glow sticks, and cupcakes. Look at Brave's guns! And I don't mean the water gun, either. 


Standing behind his left shoulder is his best friend Zeb. Gotta mention Zeb.


Happy 7th birthday, Handsome Brave Ransom!

June 01, 2016

14 years, and still true to our word

Daniel and I recently celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary, and as I watched my husband crack crab legs across the table, I felt one overwhelming emotion.

Gratitude.

There truly aren't words for how blessed I feel. I know not all women are loved like I am. I know not all kids are healthy, not all jobs are fulfilling, and not all homes are happy. Not a day goes by that I don't thank G0D for what I have.

But all marriages are hard. No matter how submitted one might be to the L0RD, sin never stops plaguing us in this life. Daniel and I have both been known to succumb to selfishness from time to time. I have a quick tongue, one that lashes out like a whip if I don't keep it tied down. Daniel, as close to perfect as he is, forgets to think about my feelings sometimes. We hurt each other. We lose sight of where we were headed when we started out.

We stumble. We fall.

But we never quit. We always repent, always forgive, and always move forward together.

Why?

Because we said we would, that's why.

One of my favorite quotes from Samwise Gamgee of The Lord of the Rings: "I made a promise, Mister Frodo. A promise! 'Don't you leave him, Samwise Gamgee.' And I don't mean to! I don't mean to."

I love this pic of us, from our 14th anniversary, because Gene took it, and those are our wedding picture and invitation on the wall.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. STAY MARRIED. It's the best promise you'll ever keep.


May 25, 2016

The pleasure is mine to say Zion is nine

For his ninth, we went to a local mall where a fantastical trampoline jump-around had been constructed atop the ice rink. That was a blast and a half!

He requested my mom's family recipe shortening cupcakes, topped with our favorite fudge icing. They disappeared very quickly.

It was a lovely group of chiddlers (as The BFG would say).

Jubilee hand-sewed this owl for Zion (a kit she received months ago for Christmas). Zion loooooved it, and name him Steve.

Gene spent his own money on these Lego knock-off buildable figures for Zion. Lego would be appalled if they ever sent a rep over here, to see what is being faked. Makes for a bountiful birthday, though!

A few days later, on his actual birthday, Zion requested a pumpkin pie "just like Grandma makes." Grandma uses the recipe on the back of the can of Libby's, so that is what I did. I remember requesting pie for my birthday when I was a kid. Only I always wanted lemon meringue.

Here is the birthday boy sporting his new Tiger's hat from Grandpa and Grandma.

And here he is making a wish.

Sweet Zion Daniel,

You.

How do we begin to describe you? To express our thankfulness for you? I'm not sure, but I'll try.

Sometimes I find you reading your Bible to the bunny out on the veranda, looking down at her every now and again, to be sure she is listening. When I walk by you in the house, you often launch into me, wrapping your wiry arms around me and burying your dimpled face in my shirt. When someone is hurting, you break for them. When you have an idea, you sizzle and pop with excitement. You are polite and kind, funny, empathetic, and delightful.

And with each passing birthday, as you mature and grow, the little person who is you unfolds to delight us even more. The L0RD outdid himself when he made Zion Daniel.

All my love forever,
Mamma

May 20, 2016

Moms beget moms

As a child I had a doll named James. He was one of those realistic baby dolls, if you know what I mean. Apparently they were something of a craze that Christmas, because when my parents went to buy one for me, the girl dolls were sold out. They had no choice but to bring home a boy. Foreshadowing, perhaps?


Well, I didn't play with that doll. I mothered that doll. James was a son of mine, as far as I was concerned. I remember a time when my friend came over to play and I sent her away, saying, "I can't play now. James is asleep. We'll come out when he wakes up from his nap."

Mother's Day 2016

And now I am mother to three little boys, and one little girl who's eyes disappear when she smiles.

Someday Jubilee will likely be living in another country - because she's a girl after my own heart - and she'll likely be sending me flowers on Mother's Day like the ones I sent to my mom this year. Aren't these gorgeous?! My mom took this pic when they were a couple of days old! Hats off to the florist.


My mom. Gosh I love her. This picture from summer '15, baking one of her famous blueberry pies in her kitchen at her condo in Zeeland MI, is one of my favorites. Everything about it. That smile-laugh of hers, which only a child can bring out (her grandkids are off camera). Her sleeves ever rolled-up on weathered arms saturated with freckles. Endearing arthritic hands, the bane of her adulthood, still gently rinsing berries, still pressing shortening into flour just enough, not too much, nor too little, for a perfectly flaky crust.


I'll never forget calling my mother from Kentucky the night I went into labor with my oldest. It was her birthday that night, her 53rd, and she didn't hesitate for a moment. Dad jumped in the driver's seat of the RV and drove my mom through the night so she could be with me when I became a mother. When the pain became too much for me, with my eyes squeezed shut, I could feel the warmth of my mom's hand resting lightly on top of mine. Her palm, worn smooth from the hot soapy water of domestic life, was a great comfort to me. She didn't have to say a word. I knew she was there, and I knew everything was going to be okay.


And now that wrinkly baby who made me a mother is an eleven-year-old boy, big enough to take me to the movies on Mother's Day for a 9:30 p.m. showing of Jungle Book in 3D. We screamed when the animals jumped out at us and marveled at the special effects, both of us appreciating a good movie when we see one. There is no other way I would have rather spent the last few hours of Mother's Day.

I am thankful beyond words for the kids who call me mom, and for the woman who showed me what it means to love children. To motherhood! What a gift.

May 09, 2016

Godbwye

The question came to my mind this week, as we said another tearful goodbye to another family we DEARLY love, Why do we say 'goodbye?' It isn't good, after all. It's quite terrible in fact. It should be called badbye, not goodbye.

A quick web searched proved helpful. Apparently, 'goodbye' can be traced back to the 1570's when the phrase, 'God be with you' was shortened to the contraction, 'godbwye.' It was later changed to 'goodbye' due to the influence of the common phrases, 'good day' and 'good evening' and such.

This came as a relief to me. Saying, 'God be with you!' I can do. But I don't think I can do any more goodbyes.

To whom did we bid godbwye this week? Tanya and Patrick and their five kids.  Five wonderful kids, who for the past three years have smiled, squeaked, sang, baked, and laughed their way into our hearts.

When we found out they would be leaving us this year, we knew it would be difficult for everyone. When you literally share the same wall as another family - something that my friend Darci in Arkansas knows about too - you form a special kind of bond. One that is built over leftover casseroles and coffee-cup conversations in slippers and robes. Middle of the night requests for infant tylenol, BBQs on the rooftop where the children play loudly, and the adults linger, in no hurry to retire to their prospective living spaces below.

Tanya is unlike any friend I've had. From her lovely Russian accent and pale eyes, endearing dimples, and waist-length chestnut hair, down to her sturdy shoes peeking out from under the hems of her flowing skirts, she is truly a special person to know. There is not a selfish bone in her tiny body. There is no pretense in her rugged ways. Always a baby in her arms, always a smile on her face. Only natural food for her brood. Only conservative curriculum for her treasured home pupils. I admire Tanya for so many reasons, and I will miss her very, very much.

And then there is my Eugene and her Emma. These two are cut from the same fabric. At times they quarreled because they are too much alike, but mostly they played together with great fondness and Emma will be missed dearly. And not just by Gene. I will miss my little baking partner. My reading buddy. My little friend.

Zion calls Sasha "Sash." I dare say she has been his best friend here.  She treats him with respect, something many little girls have lost the grace for in their dealings with little boys these days. The two of them played for hours and hours on the roof, in a world of make believe with their arms full of stuffed animals. Zion won't know what to do without "Sash."

And Tamara and Jubilee, well, these two girls were inseparable. They loved their tea parties and princess dresses just as much as making mud pies and turning over rocks in search of roly poly bugs. Jubilee hardly needed any other friend but Tamara.

So from the bottom of my heart I say, "God be with you, dear friends. Until we meet again!"
Dropping them off at the airport. Sasha giving me one last wave:(




April 23, 2016

Tadpoles

They start out in a dark and quiet place. Soft and helpless. Unaware. 

And then they become mobile. Curious. Cute. And yet contained, confined to space and time; in my care. 



And you look at them in wonder, unable to imagine them becoming anything else.


And then, before your eyes, they do.



April 13, 2016

Episode XI

Dear Bright Eugene,

This weekend you turned 11. We celebrated with a pizza party, followed by a showing of The Force Awakens projected onto the wall of our roof room, and then a sleepover in the same roof room.  I don't think you boys got much sleep up there, as we heard you jumping on the trampoline over our heads at around midnight. But the rule in our house is no sleepovers until you are ten. And then we make up for it, I guess, by letting you stay up late and play.

Our Eugenious. You are one special kid, son. Always have been. You could point out almost any country on the world map before you were out of diapers, and nowadays you use words that I myself don't always know the meaning of.

You are steady and strong. You are urgent. You are precise.

You make me laugh. I love it that your humor is smart, too; you could cut-up with a room full of 50-year-old professors.

Gene, I am proud of you. I pray for you each day. I wonder about you, as I catch glimpses of the man that is coming.  To what corners of the earth will G0D call you? To what adventures are you to lay claim?

I smile to think about your wife, who will need to be a very tender person, and yet have the inner strength of rebar. She will learn how happy you can be with so little, so long as changes come slowly, and with plenty of notice. She'll learn how to coax you out of a blue mood by suggesting a shared task, or by asking for your opinion on a matter.

But for now I'm the lady in your life, and I couldn't possibly be any happier about it. HAPPY 11th BIRTHDAY, SON!

All my love forever,
Mama