November 30, 2009

Diaper Graduation

He did it, folks. No accidents today. A trip to the ball pit to celebrate, followed by McDonald's for chicken nuggets.

And just like that, the baby is gone.

November 29, 2009

Potty Camp, Day 3!!!

Due to a minor setback (Zion's tummy sickness), we are extending our 3-day training to 4 days, risking the scorn of the die-hards. So, tomorrow afternoon we will be headed to the ball pit to celebrate our success, rather than today. I will say, however, all things considered, Zion is doing great. He did not have one pee-pee accident today, and only one poop accident. By this evening, he was telling us when he needed to go (rather than us simply putting him on the toilet ever hour). He isn't as interested in the chart or the rewards as Bright was, but then Bright has always been 100% on board with anything organized and clearly laid out. Zion is much more go with the flow (no pun intended), but even still, he will be potty trained in 4 days. Pretty darn good.

The highlights of the day were:

The rough start (Zion still feeling sick and spending his post-breakfast hour on a pallet by the heater, looking rather pitiful).

Bright making a "valentine" for Zion to cheer him up (which worked).

Playing baseball in the courtyard with our neighbors before dinner.

Zion wearing jeans for the first time without diapers (and barely keeping them up).

November 28, 2009

Potty Camp, Day 2 (and coming out both ends)

Day 2 was interesting. Along with cleaning up Zion's puddles of pee (which only happened twice at the beginning of the day, so we were pleased), we were cleaning up his partially digested macaroni and cheese. That's right, our little potty pupil got sick in the middle of his big weekend. Throw-up everywhere. More laundry, more mess, and much more pathetic pictures. Here is a picture of him sitting on the toilet after his warm bath, covered with a hand towel that is secured in front with a hair clip (it is VERY cold in our unheated bathrooms).

As you can see, Daniel is very stressed about it all.

November 27, 2009

Potty Camp, Day 1

It's that time again at the Rupp house. Not only for candy corn and herb stuffing. Not only for footed pajamas and Bing Crosby. Not only for hand-print turkeys taped to the window panes. Around our house, it is also potty training time.

This go-round, the man of the hour is Zion. We are repeating our potty-train-in-3-days method that I learned a few years back from my dear friend, Laura Pinkstaff. It worked for Bright.

Today was day one. Our calendar was cleared, the reward chart ready, the stickers, the prizes wrapped, the potty seat accounted for, the rugs rolled up, the tiny undies washed and folded for use. The first thing Zion did was drop a big load in his Wall-E undies. Poor Wall-E. But we did manage to get him to the toilet for a final offering into the porcelain. "YAY!!!" we shouted as he chose his first sticker.

The rest of the morning he sucked down cup after cup of Ovaltine, Carnation Instant Breakfast, hot cocoa, and apple juice, and managed to pee all over the floor five times. We were getting a little nervous, thinking maybe it wasn't going to work this time. But then, all at once, he got it. The afternoon was filled with hoots and hollers and stickers and prizes and more sweet beverages, pizza for dinner, and leftover chocolate pie for everyone to celebrate the day. We are well on our way to a two-big-boy household.

I really enjoyed spending the day focused on our dear middle child. Since this method requires that we not leave his side for three days, I got to spend lots of time just watching him play. His beautiful face, his spider-silk hair, his ivory skin. I watched his dimples pop in and out as he whispered softly to his trains.

Potty training is, for me, a rite of passage into childhood. As I watched Zion today, I was flooded with memories of our first weeks with him. The nurses handing me my 4.5 lb baby, who looked half like Daniel and half like a bird that had fallen from the nest. His soft-spot stretched from his hairline above his forehead to the crown of his head. I remember nursing him around the clock until he was 10 months old, trying to fatten him up. I remember realizing that he was going to be a cuddler, and being so thrilled to have a baby that would nestle into my neck and literally purr like a kitten. For all the picky eating habits and sleepless nights, he has been a pure joy of a baby, delighting us with his antics and making us roar with laughter. I will desperately miss Zion the baby. I will cry when he reaches the end of his potty chart. But I am ready, too, to see who Zion the boy will be.

November 24, 2009


Daniel takes a daily bath. The glitch is, here, at our new apartment, the gas water heater does not light on it's own. The switch must be flipped by hand, after crawling under the dryer vent hose behind the washer and dryer on our tiny four-season-type patio room, and even then it will only work if the water is running somewhere in the house. The other glitch is, the water heater will only stay lit for roughly 15 minutes, sometimes less. That is not enough time to fill Daniel's daily bath. If we stay on top of it, we can hear the flame puff out and run back to flip the switch on before the water running into his bath goes cold. But if we are busy doing things, as is often the case in our home these days, the water begins to run cold before we know it. In that case, the only thing to do is hold the spigot over the toilet until the water heats back up. Daniel can be found in this position almost daily. Since he is just sitting there, I sometimes give him one of the kids. Here is a picture of the above described scenario.

November 21, 2009

Lao San

In this language, the third child is called Lao San. "San," pronounced, "Sahn," means three. Everywhere we go, we hear people exclaiming, with awe and delight, "SANGE," pronounced, "sahn-guh." The "ge" is added to make it a measurement.

In this country, there is a policy in place to keep families from having more than one child. Most families hope their one child will be a son. Our three children, so close in age (not to mention their foreign looks), and the fact that they are all boys, makes us something to wonder at as we scoot by in our oversized motorbike-for-five. Everywhere we go, we are bathed in a constant stream of exclamations of "Sange!" We smile and wave, like we are in a parade, and Daniel says, warmly, "Here come the Sanges!"

Our Lao San, named Yong Gan (which means "brave"), is for us the extra log thrown on the fire. His pudgy little presence in our family brings a boost of light and warmth to our home. The boys make their hourly visits to his blanket on the floor, pressing a kiss against his cheek or giving him their finger to wrap his hand around. Brave is as easy a baby as there ever was. The other day, he silently allowed Bright to pick him up and drag him half by his neck across the room, up the landing, and into the office where I was.

Often, when I am holding him close, or nursing him in the predawn hours, I feel a sort of pang in my chest that I can only describe as love. I remember when Bright was our only child and I wondered how I could ever love another as much as I loved him. Some people say that there is a space in a mother's heart set aside for each child. I think I have a separate whole heart for all them.

November 20, 2009

Married with children

A picture says a thousand words

November 16, 2009


I guess I'm on this "day in the life" kick right now. So here is some more. During the day, when we get a chance, we go out to the "playground" in our little "gated community." I've put these terms in quotes because I don't want those of you in America to envision a playground or a gated community like what you have in the US of A. Nothing like it all. But nonetheless, here are pictures of Bright on the see-saw, Zion with his friend, Brennan, some other cute playmates, and the snack selection (what you are looking at are tasty, crispy chicken feet...yum).

Day in the life.

November 15, 2009

Omelet, anyone?

Here is a little perspective. Imagine having to the wash poop, blood, and feathers off of each egg before cracking them into your brownie batter or whatever. Welcome to my world.

And yes, I am wearing food service gloves in this picture. I'm not about to touch that egg with my bare hands!

November 14, 2009

The New Ride

As you know, Daniel's electric bike got heisted last month while we were ordering coffee drinks. Two days later, out of a desperate need for wheels, Daniel headed out to replace it. Thankfully, things are so cheaply made here that replacing one of these babies is about as costly as replacing a good mountain bike in America. No chump change, I admit, but nothing to get sick over, either.

In fact, we were a tad grateful to our friendly neighborhood thieves for giving us the opportunity to pick out something with good brakes, less kilometers of wear, and more visual appeal. Looking at this thing, you would expect it to burst out into macho rumble when turned on, but this pretty kitten doesn't even purr. Like all electric bikes, the turn of the key results in complete silence. A true biker would be horrified.

So, with Daniel's Wolverine chops (leftover from Halloween), his Michael Jackson leather jacket (which our American friends make fun of and our national friends covet), and his Tom Cruise shades (which are just plain cool, lets face it) the new ride is complete. Eat your hearts out, ladies, he's mine.

November 08, 2009

Girlhood friends

Like many of you, I have lost touch with one of the girls who stood up in my wedding. I have no contact with the girl who wore the other half of my best friend necklace in the fifth grade. I haven't talked to some of my college roommates in years.

But there is a remnant, a precious few friends from my past, who remain a constant in my life. They knew me when I had braces and freeze-dried bangs. They stumbled along beside me through the torrent of adolescence, holding each other up when it was too hard to keep going.

I am convinced that two things cement girlfriends together forever: The Holy Spirit, and/or training bras.

Two of such friends are Kathy and Emily. Kathy (pictured here with me on the beach our senior year of highschool) was in my seventh grade science class. She was the coolest girl in school. I, of course, knew who she was and was frankly shocked that she was speaking to me. As it turned out, the dimpled and beautiful Kathy, who could play the piano and sing and act and play sports and wiz through advanced classes, was also the most genuine and kindhearted friend a girl could have. She was nice to everyone, cool or not, and for whatever reason, she liked me.

Emily (pictured here with me in her parents' kitchen our senior year of high school) was the star balance beamer on the gymnastics team, all six feet of her, and when I met her she was still a gangly, goofy kid, all knees and elbows. She was the girl who everyone loved. No one has ever said a bad word about Emily. She and I were quite a pair, and we stayed glued at the hip all through the last two years of high school.

That is not say that they, nor I, have always been perfect, nor have our friendships enjoyed a completely smooth ride. In 9th grade they signed their names (along with all of the other girls in school) at the bottom of a hate letter, addressed to me, after I committed the ultimate teen girl blunder...stealing another girl's guy (which was an accident, I assure you, but that is a whole other story). But as the years have carried us on, our bonds have stood the test of time. Whatever the preservative is, these two friendships, and others like them, have not expired, and I know now that they never will.

Just this week, I recieved a care package from Kathy. In it were books and magazines (English reading material is scarce here), candy and snacks, a hand-written letter (somewhat of a rarity these days, unfortunately, which makes them highly valuable), a beautiful birthday sweater (which I am wearing at the moment, in fact), a lovely journal which beckons my thoughts, country music, Christmas music, nastalgic photographs, recent pictures from Emily's wedding, and many more goodies. Kathy and Emily are two of my most faithful care-package senders. Here we are, nearly 20 years after we first met, and half a world apart, and our friendships are perhaps stronger than they have ever been. What a wonder.

So here is to friends - real friends - lifelong friends - and all the greatness that comes along with them. I love you, Kath and Em. Thanks for the laughs and the love and the years. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

November 02, 2009


The first picture is Brave at four months. The second picture is Zion at four months. What do you think? Do they look like brothers?

November 01, 2009

Kind of scary

While Brave is screaming himself to sleep, I will recap on Halloween.

Let me start by saying that I grew up trick-or-treating. Since we were not allowed to open gifts on Christmas Eve, Halloween was my favorite night of the year. My mom, bless her soul, is not the Martha Stewart type (at least not back then). There were no costume workshops sprawled out on our kitchen table for the last two weeks of October. We were never dressed like felt sandwiches or purple balloon grape clusters. Instead, my brothers usually threw on their football uniforms and I usually wore my mom's clothes from the 70's and flashed a peace sign with my fingers for the camera. One year, in a fit of desperation, at about 6 p.m. on Halloween night, my mom pulled a dozen items of brown, dingy clothing from the hall closet - sweaters and leather jackets and scarves and such - and told me to tell people I was Cinderella before she met her fairy godmother.

Trick-or-treating is a fascinating practice, when you think about it. I remember the first year that Daniel and I had a house (granted, it was a rental) and we realized on the morning of the 31st of October that we were going to need large amounts of candy if we were going to stay home that night. I realized, too, that we were expected to open our door over and over and over to tired and sugared-up kids and disrespectful teenagers, and pretend to be happy about it. Trick-or-treating, according to Wikipedia, "...resembles the late medieval practice of souling, when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2). It originated in Ireland and Britain,[3] although similar practices for the souls of the dead were found as far south as Italy."

There is no trick-or-treating, however, here in our country in Asia. Thankfully, no matter how far away you travel, it seems, you can always find a handful of other westerners who are more than willing to squeeze their European-descended hips into a black leotard and tights, stuff a long black sock with garbage bags and hang it from their butt, paint their nose pink and don a headband with attached cat ears. Why not?

This year, we brought our little Batman, builder, and frog to the annual expat Harvest Festival. The crowded room smelled, appropriately, like sweat, polyester, and hot dogs. All of the princesses and superheros (including mine) and butterflies and ballerinas were crying. All of the hippies and nurses and Hannah Montanas were flirting. All of the parents were pulling out their hair, all of the volunteers were cursing their inability to say no, and all-in-all I think it was a Halloween success. What would Halloween be, after all, without a mom hissing, "You WILL wear the tiara I spent three days making" into her daughter's ear as the poor little thing tries to stash it in her brother's stroller because it is pinching her head?

Why do we do it, anyway? Dress our kids up and take them in public? To outcute the other kids, of course. To show off our felt and glitter skills. To hopefully get a picture that will win the $2,500 prize on We are Americans. We love junk food. We love to compete. We love to have fun. We love to pretend (in this case, that scary holidays are great for kids). We love to be social. Probably most of all, we just do what we have always done.

Kind of scary.

Happy Halloween!