December 30, 2010

Plain old moments

Daniel is in the capital city on business this weekend.  He left behind three downcast little boys, to whom he gave a "token," which in this case was a small ceramic songbird whistle, normally kept on his office windowsill next to a clay oil lamp, for them to blow whenever they missed him (lucky me).  Daniel looked very dapper in his new Christmas clothes and the haircut I just gave him, and I took a deep breath when I got the text that his plane had safely landed in the capital.  I always get uneasy when he is in the air, unable to stop myself from reviewing my single-parenthood plan:  I will move in with my parents and get an hourly job, while I put myself through beauty school.  I SOOO hope that never happens, for many reasons (none of which being the moving in with my parents bit, Mom, because that would be fun, especially now with your fancy new oven).

When I FINALLY got the boys in bed this evening - a process that is arduous on a good night but enters the category of death-defying when Daniel is gone - I looked around the apartment at everything that needed picking up and I smiled:  there is no doubt that boys live here.  Toy cars were everywhere, of course, lined up in long rows like a monster truck show.  Pieces of train sets had been dragged away from their rightful places by the resident 1-year-old.  Balls of all sizes, an entire prehistoric ecosystem of dinosaurs and dragons, plastic hammers and rubber saws and tape measures and wooden screws, toy airplanes, dirty socks, Nutella-smeared sweatshirts, a dining table covered with runaway rice and spilled soy sauce, two microscopes, a worn blue blankie that didn't make it into bed, a kitchen sink full of sticky Lightning McQueen sippy cups and Mickey Mouse cutlery, and finger and toe smudges on the door frames reaching all the way to the ceiling.

Daniel called as I was tossing the last sock into the hamper, and we laughed about the goings-on of our day.  His included a modeling session at the airport here in town, where he was asked to be the poster boy for the new airport brochure.  He obliged, and was thus followed around by four to five gigantic cameras and asked to look like he was ordering food, buying a ticket, and seeking help from personnel (who were not actually personnel but professionals dressed to look like personnel).  He said it was fun and hilarious, and also a little uncomfortable as he was given quite a few "who does he think HE is" looks from the lesser-fortunate foreigners who were not chosen to be the face of the airport.  Must have been the dapper Christmas clothes. 

As he divulged the details of his modeling debut, and which legs were missing from the bed in his hotel room, and his hour-long hunt on foot in the freezing capital city for a foot-long sandwich at Subway (something we can't get in our town), it dawned on me that marriage is awesome.  I am this man's wife, I thought, this very good man with his new flannel shirt and his token-giving love for our sons, and his sincere interest in what I did today.  I am the woman he calls when he is out of town, the woman he loves enough by now that he doesn't even think about it.  We just are.  We can't not be.  Those parts of our lives that would be insignificant to others, and would in fact bore them to tears (like this blog post has bored you, I'm sure), mean the world to each other.  I make sure he is eating enough to stay warm, and I make sure he knows that I'm proud of him, and that I want him here but I want him there, too, because we are in this together and we are a team.  I won't be able to kiss him tomorrow evening at the stroke of 2011, but I don't need to.  Any plain old moment in any plain old day with him is just as good as the biggest celebration in the world.

December 26, 2010

the darker the night

My Christmas morning began at 4:30 a.m. when my eyes popped open and I knew it was senseless to stay in bed, what with everything that needed to be done.

So I got up and made this apple-and-date bread pudding for Christmas breakfast.
Then I made this red velvet cake.
About that time, the kids woke up, followed shortly by their groggy daddy.  Christmas morning commenced.  Many gifts were opened, from the favorites to the very odd.
This is the only picture we got of all three boys.  It was taken on Christmas Eve at our steak-and-potatoes dinner at John and Alisa's.
I had a rough Christmas this year.  It was probably the most emotional holiday I've had since Geoffrey Berens broke up with me on New Year's Eve in 1991 (in case your math is not so good, that would put me in the sixth grade).  I was just missing my family so much.  I kept thinking about them, and all their many reasons to grieve this Christmas.  I read my mom's blog and I cried.  I talked to my little brother at noon, midnight his time, and afterward I cried again.  I kept thinking about how far away I am, and how much we are missing in each others' lives, and how long it will be until we see one another again.  I just cried and cried, and when I wasn't crying I was griping at everyone (namely Daniel), and generally making things gloomy.  At one point during the day, Bright said, "It's Christmas.  We should try to be more caring."  By Christmas evening, I was soaking a headache away in a hot bath, nursing a cup of afternoon coffee, and dreading having to show my haggard face to the 10 guests we were about to welcome for Christmas dinner.

But then they all came over, in their sweat pants, bearing gifts and salad, and I found out that I was not the only one who cried my way through Christmas.  We stuffed our faces with spaghetti and meatballs and then sang Christmas carols in our living room.  I found myself crying again, but this time at the magnitude of the love G0D has for me.  After praising the newborn king, we popped in Home Alone II, and I fell asleep under a comforter on the floor among friends, where I was relaxed for the first time in days.

MoMo sent us a new storybook Bib!e for the kids this year and it is A-MAZ-ING.  It is called, "The Je$us Storybook Bib!e: Every story whispers his name" by Sally Lloyd-Jones and Jago.  During our praise and worship time, before Home Alone II, I read from it, of the account of the birth of Chri$t.  While trying to read the following lines, I - you guessed it - cried again.  

"This baby would be like that bright star shining in the sky that night.  A Light to light up the whole world.  Chasing away darkness.  Helping people to see.  And the darker the night got, the brighter the star would shine."

December 24, 2010

a fire and a fish funeral

Daniel, in his pjs, leaning on the firetruck.
At approximately 11 p.m. on Christmas Eve-Eve (or Christmas Adam, as my friend Kristy has started calling it), we heard what sounded like a bulldozer ramming into our apartment repeatedly.  Daniel got up and made his way to the mud room, where he saw every person in our section of the apartment complex standing out on their verandas in their pajamas, staring at us.  Next he saw a fire truck driving through the garden, straight for us.  Next he looked up and saw flames lapping at the outside wall above us.  Next a fireman was pounding on our door, shouting for us to get out! 

We spend our whole lives asking each other the stupid ice-breaker question, "What would you grab in a fire," but we never have to actually answer it.  What did we grab?  Our sleeping kids, who stiffened in their footed pjs and then curled against us to stay warm.  Our computers, to save all of our family photos.  Our family "treasure box," which includes positive pregnancy tests and love notes and cards from Sue Sue and hospital nursery wrist bands and the like.  Our phones, and my birth control pills.  Hey, I love my kids but I didn't want to let a fire give me a fifth one;)

As it turns out, the bulldozer sound was 5-10 firemen working hard to bust down the steel door of the empty apartment above us.  As it turns out, a workman who had been tinkering at the remodeling of that apartment earlier in the evening had discarded a cigarette and the thing smoldered in the construction debris until it caught fire (pray for that poor man as his mistake has cost the wealthy owners a lot of money and he is in big trouble).  As it turns out, we only spent 5 minutes out in the cold before the flames were out and we were headed back home, water pouring down the stairwell from the 13th floor.

I guess all the excitement proved too much for our fish, because we woke up the next morning to Bright saying, "Mama, Hammer is doing a trick.  He is floating on his side."  We had prepared the kids for this, though we didn't expect it to happen so soon, so they handled it pretty well.  As we bundled up to go outside for Hammer's burial, Bright kept starting to cry and then choking it back, a glimpse of our lives ten years from now when their voices will crack from more than pet-death grief and they will try as hard as they can to be men before they really are.

And you know what I kept thinking?  Hammer probably gave up when he realized we grabbed the birth control pills instead of him.  I know how you feel, buddy.  I just noticed that I lost one of my blog "followers," most likely due to my cigarette craving confession, and in some very human way that stings.  Praise G0D I didn't lose more than that on our much too eventful Christmas Eve-Eve.

December 22, 2010

Greener Grass

I am in my bedroom, blaring Roxette and pretending that I don't hear the crying babies in my house who are supposed to be taking their naps.  I am pretending that I don't have cravings, all these years later, for a cigarette every now and then.  I am pretending that I could, if I chose to, jump into my old 1989 Ford Tempo and drive out to the frozen lake, to sit alone in the beach grass and clear my thoughts.  I am pretending that life was easier when there was only me to take care of, and only a waitress job to show up for.  I am pretending that if I wanted to, I could chop all my hair and dye it red, or save up for a one-way ticket to Hawaii to be a bicycle tour guide (something I was once this close to doing).

Reality check, right?  Yeah.  In actuality, I couldn't even run out and touch the curb and run back.  In actuality, I do need to consider the feelings of my husband and kids.  They are not going anywhere, and I am not going to be a bicycle tour guide any time soon.

It is Christmas, so maybe I have the holiday blues, but I find myself wishing for all things and nothing at all. I am wanting to freeze time and keep my children young and loving and full of joy, while at the same time longing to wake up and wonder what I will do today.  I look up at the clouds in the high, blue sky and think of track meets.  I think of track meets!  I was in 8th grade, but back then I was good at something, and I went out on the track and I did it.  Afterward I could lie on the grass, eat a granola bar, and look at the clouds.
And then my precious 3-year-old son, with his tiny butt and tiny glasses, calls Bethlehem, "Breath Of Ham" and I have the strength to keep on going.  8th grade is gone.  My Ford Tempo has long rusted away.  The frozen shores of Lake Michigan are on the other side of the planet.  I am married to a man who is not perfect, but deserves to be loved as if he is.  Isn't that what the baby in the manger came to tell us?  That we are loved?

So I will trade my fantasies of Camel Lights for the plastic camel in the Little People nativity on the end table. I will close this post and go in and retrieve my crying babies, and I will say a prayer for my cousin, Ryan, who would trade every day of the rest of his life to see his son one more time.  It is hard being a parent; being a mom;  being a stay-at-home mom; being a never-gets-a-break-from-even-one-of-her-kids homeschool mom; being a homeschool mom in another country.  My life is very hard.  No one would argue with me on that one.  But a grateful heart I should have if I have any wisdom at all.

December 21, 2010

attempt #2 at being pet-owners

Attempt #1 at being pet owners was back in 2007 when we bought Bright a slider turtle named Sea Horse, which went back to the pet store his family (because they missed him) when we realized that slider turtles are actually baby sea turtles and grow to be bigger than me.

Attempt #2 is thanks to the kids' sitter, Ms. Miriam, who brought them each a fish last week for Christmas.  Meet Nemo, Marlin, and Hammer (boys are not renowned for originality in the naming department).
We had a long talk with the kids about the lifespan of fish, and that just like butterflies, they will not live long.  I guess we really drove it home, because every morning when we turn on the light, the kids go running to the fish bowl exclaiming, "They are not floating upside down!  This is a good day!"

p.s.  We love you, Miri!

three problems, two solutions

We have had three problems this week.  One being that my hair needed a trim.  The last time I had it trimmed cross-culturally, I cried for quite a while afterward.  So this time, I showed Daniel a "how to trim long hair" method from and he went for it.  If my husband is anything at all, he is capable.  Good job, Babe!
The second problem was roaches.  Somehow the little stinkers have found their way to the 12th floor.  The solution?  Apparently, a miracle.
The third problem does not have a solution in a hilarious little cardboard box (unfortunately).  The third problem is Brave Ransom Rupp, who is going through the terrible 18-months.  He is too young to go the whole day with only one nap, but he is too old to take two naps.  The result is crankiness (his and mine).  Homeschool, consequently, has become tricky, what with a very tired and very aggressive baby boy clambering all over our books and crafts, trying to eat the crayons and wishing to sit right on my face during story time.  We still love you, Bravey.  We just get really excited when 7 p.m. comes around:)

December 20, 2010


Daniel and Kayla Rupp have never put down roots.  Just when our roots start to creep out into the soil, daring to imagine that it is safe, we rip them out of the ground and transplant our family once again.  In the first 8 Christmases of our marriage, we have never put a Christmas tree up in the same living room twice.

Until this year.
This, our 9th Christmas together, we are at the same address we were last year, for the very first time. I'm not quite sure what to make of it.  I think I shall have to change the furniture around or something, for the sake of normalcy.

December 18, 2010

Top 10 best things about Christmas in East Asia

10. Our annual, no-kids-allowed citywide Christmas dinner and gift war exchange, where we give and receive the strange (sardines), the practical (Shout stain gel), and the coveted (Rotel).
  9. Care packages from people back home who either really love us or just enjoy confusing their friendly neighborhood post office clerks.
  8. My mom's Christmas chai tea mix, which (like everything from America) tastes even better over here.
  7. The beautiful new star on top of our Christmas shrub tree, handmade by deaf minority ladies.
  6. The Madonna with black hair and black eyes, and the holy infant wrapped in Chinese silk.
  5. Not having to drive on snowy/icy roads because we don't have a car anyway.
  4. Not having to attend 50 million different Christmas parties because almost everyone we know was at the one we had last night.
  3. No Santa Claus.
  2. No Black Friday.
  1. Never having to wonder whether or not all that we have given up in order to be here is going to be worth it in the end.

December 16, 2010

The perfect marriage

Happy 32nd anniversary to my amazing parents, Marcy and Jerry Rademaker!

Here they were on their wedding day:
And here they are now:
If I have learned anything from watching these two tough it out, I have learned that marriage is no picnic, love does not sustain itself, and quitting never gets you anywhere.  I think more than anything, though, my parents have taught me that love and life are both better than their alternatives, and worth the fight.  Do they have the perfect marriage?  In my book, yes.  The perfect marriage is one that is stronger than it was at the beginning, and you are looking at one of the strongest marriages that ever was.

I love you both, and I hope you are enjoying your anniversary!  Thank you for what you have given to your family, the greatest gift of all,  love.

To read their sweet wedding story, visit my mom's blog.

December 15, 2010

in an instant

The first thought that my brain formed in my head yesterday morning was (the famous quote), "You are only as happy as you make up your mind to be."  That quote got me through the day.

As I wrote in a note to my friend, Mira, yesterday, 2010 has not been a banner year for us.  I take that back...there has been a banner flying over us, it would seem, but the word scrawled across it is "loss."

This year I have lost a grandmother (in-law, if you want to be technical) to death of old age, a sister-in-law to divorce, and a child cousin to a horribly tragic accident.  Daniel's sister has lost her life, as she knew it, to her baby girl's congenital defects.  My grandmother battled cancer this year, and has lost some of her vitality.  Another of my cousins is in chemo right now, losing weight, I'm sure, and hair, and the notion that these things only happen to other people.  An uncle was handed an eventually-fatal diagnosis, and has lost the dream of growing old with his wife.  Another cousin lost her job, out of the blue, and has had to move back in with her parents.  I lost my childhood home to the economy.  Miscarriages have been announced this year almost monthly from among the people that we know and love.  Adoptions have gone wrong.  Intestines have folded in on themselves.  Babies have been born with missing fingers.  Dear friends have fallen away from the L0RD.  Just when we think there can't possibly be any more bad news, the banner of loss picks up the wind and flies again.

Those of us with the hope of CHR!ST retort, "Yes, but with every loss comes something gained!  We gain perspective, intimacy with the L0RD, the ability to find joy in the small things, freedom from pride, freedom from materialism, freedom from fear."

That, and we drink coffee.  I have long given my parents a hard time about their dependency on the stuff, bragging on myself for having given it up after college and "now I can get up and go with nothing but a prayer and a nod of determination!"  Daniel is still there, refusing to sell out.  Not me.  I threw my hands up midway through this year, and I think I've figured out why.  A person's got to have three things every day:  something to look forward to, something that never changes, and 5 minutes of doing nothing.  Coffee provides all three.  We coffee drinkers (I can say that now) usually use the same cup every day, too, and it rarely has anything to do with how it looks.  It has to be a good weight, the right volume, and the handle must fit well in the drinker's hand.  My cup of choice is the ugliest one we've got.

The coffee inside that mug right there is instant, which, in this busy mom's morning, is often the best it gets.  Someone (forgive me that I can't remember who) sent us a box of Starbuck's instant packets, though, and I found Equal tablets, 7 months expired, at the import store the other day, and with some skim milk, nutmeg, and cinnamon, this ugly cup packs quite a lot of satisfaction.

So here's the hokey conclusion.  Nothing ever stays the same, right?  Our lives are forever changed in an instant - with a word, with a wrong turn, with an ultrasound, with a lump.  Every morning, though, unless we wake up one day on the moon with no provisions, we coffee drinkers will spend five minutes with a hot mug in our hands.  An afternoon headache scolds us if we don't.  It has to happen.  It will happen.  A vice?  Sure.  But in a year like this one, can ya blame me?  ;)

December 14, 2010

Waiting for her

We just received word today that our dossier (total collection of adoption paperwork) is complete and in the process of being authenticated!  What does that mean?  It means that everything is out of our hands now.  We do nothing now but wait to be introduced (via emailed photo) to our little girl.  It could still be 5 months until that actually happens, but it feels really good to be at this stage.

Jubilee, wherever you are sweet heart, we love you desperately and we are praying for you every day.  Your big brothers can't wait to show you your room, and the toys we have been collecting for you.  May the L0RD bless you, our precious daughter, and keep you in his arms until he places you in ours.  Merry Christmas, and a VERY happy New Year!

December 13, 2010

Travelers are weird!

Photo taken from one of our flights to/from East Asia.  You are looking at the Arctic glaciers.
It would be impossible at this point to tell you the number of flights I have boarded.  Come to think of it, I couldn't tell you how many flights my 5-year-old has boarded.  There would be absolutely no way to count them.

A traveler like myself has had lots of time to observe my fellow travelers.  People who travel are weird.  If you think about it, how many people in your circle have been to, say, Thailand?  Not many, I would wager.  That's because people have jobs, or they have kids, or they head up the annual rummage sale, etc.  Normal people can't just break away to saunter the streets of wherever.  White people in Asian crowds, for example (who look to me like the white flecks in potting soil) are always wearing hiking gear or flowing skirts and toting worn backpacks.  They drink dark beer and stay out late, eating street food and rarely shaving.  In order to globe trot, most of these people fall into one of the following categories:  independently wealthy, still dependent on their parents (sad but true), involved in questionable activities, and/or have no other responsibilities.  Not many people in your PTA would qualify, would they?

I'll bet, though, that your fellow westerners are a whole light nicer than the ones we meet on the streets over here.  Whenever I've run into one of these beer-and-Birkenstock types, he or she either completely ignores me or gives me a good long scowl.  It's true!  It's as if she is thinking, 'Look, lady, I gave up everything to come over here and find myself, and you think you can trot around town with your kids in tow like some kind of June Cleaver.  This is no suburbia, and I don't want to look at you!'

I'm telling you, travelers are weird.

Of course, there are those folks (though far too few) who are out in the world doing what we are doing, but even we are a rare breed.  Recently, all of our friends over here took a personality test, and every one of us scored high in "good at dealing with change," "high need for adventure," and "flexible."  Of course we did, or we would be eating at Chili's on Friday nights with the rest of you:)

I've always been odd.  When my friends in high school were spending their money at Abercrombie and Fitch, I was saving every penny for traveling.  I never imagined having a house or a car, or walking my kids down the road to the bus stop.  I always saw myself out on the breeze, bringing home exotic gifts for my nieces and nephews.  Funny how what we were meant for comes to be.  I never thought about how much I would miss those nieces and nephews, or what it would be like to know that my kids won't smell wet earth beneath melting snow and think of home.  I guess everyone misses out on something.

December 10, 2010

Words aren't enough

I posted the other day about the tragic death of my 7-year-old cousin, Karter, but I retracted my words a few days later because they weren't good enough.  I'm about to write more words that aren't good enough, but I can't just publish nothing, so I will try again.

I sit here in East Asia, longing to wrap my arms around my cousin Ryan (Karter's father), and my Aunt Sandy, and my other cousins and uncles and grandma and my mom.  The thing is, my hands are tied here on the other side of the world.  My cousin, Jason, flew in to Michigan for the funeral from New York, and said he would have walked if he had to.  I would have walked there, too, if I could have.  I really would have.

I want Ryan to know that I have seen you with your boys, and you are a fabulous dad.  Karter lived his life happy and loved, that was clear.  I can't imagine what you are going through.  As a mom, I weep with you.  As your cousin, I ache with you.  I am praying for you and Kaleb and the rest of our family.  I am praying every day.  Daniel is praying, too, and so are Bright and Zion.  May you feel the love of our heavenly father, and may that carry you through.

December 09, 2010

a nose-dive and a sketch

I could brag on Bright and all the amazing and talented and way-before-his-years things that he does and says, but nobody likes that kind of mom.  So I will show you this picture instead.
Bright was doing his "jet run" from one end of the hospital lobby to the other (a kid's gotta exercise, does he not?) and he tripped over his own feet and went airborne, crashing into this beautiful potted poinsettia.

Also to pass the time while we waited on Brave to be let out of Bumrungrad International, I took to doodling.  I have not doodled since junior high, but as Bright was resting I attempted to draw his likeness.  A bit scary, but I think I got the eyes right:)

not for the squeamish

Here is the proof that our 5-day ordeal in The Kingdom of Thailand (from which we have now returned) was necessary.  I am not an x-ray tech but I can only assume that the large white section pointing downward, resembling the fat part of an earthworm, is the intussusception.  I just had to post this barium enema x-ray, if for no other reason than to show it to the girlfriend someday:)

December 06, 2010

curry and sponge baths

Whew, night four in Bangkok.  Night four of tucking our 1-year-old in for bed in a steel crib with elephant-patterned (typical Thai) bedding.  Four times now since Friday morning I have pinned him down for an abdominal ultrasound session, the last of which was supposed to give us a thumbs-up for his discharge papers.  Unfortunately, his lymphnodes on his upper right side, around the sight of the intussusception, are still enlarged and his bowel-wall is still a little thick.  That, and he ran a good fever today.  Nothing to be alarmed about, just not what we had hoped.  Thus, here I sit in the hallway outside of room 750 at Bumrungrad International Hospital, typing away, hoping that the thumbs-up will come tomorrow.

Good thing for me, I love hospital food.  Seriously.  I can hardly wait for the next tray of shrink-wrapped-whatever to come through the door.  That is when I am in America, waiting on Salisbury steak.  In Thailand, where the best food in the world is made, I can be seen nearly kissing the kitchen help as they greet us with an ever-so-slight bow and a big Thai smile, setting a bud vase containing a young red rose on the counter, and leaving us to enjoy our plates of tropical fruit and curry.  I also love airplane food, for much the same reasons:  I don't have to prepare it, it is always just the right portions, and you never know what is going to be under that lid until you remove it (and sometimes not even then).  Daniel thinks I'm crazy, and enjoys teasing me about it.  He says I will be the most appreciative person in the nursing home dining hall, squealing with delight as I gum my custard.  He is probably right.

The Thai are not just good at stewing pork with coconut milk.  They are the most graceful people I've ever seen, if you'll allow me such a broad racial generalization.  They move like ballerinas, even when assembling your cold-cut trio or giving your son a barium enema.  Watching them do anything is like watching the Nutcracker Suite.  They must take lots of baths, too, because their appearances are always flawless, from eye-liner to pantyhose, and they always smell like flower petals.  They like to bathe others, too, it would seem.  If your baby runs a fever, you can bet that two or three nurses will descend upon him with wash cloths and a basin of warm water.  Brave's nurses cannot BELIEVE that I already give him cows milk (he is 18 months old, people).  They keep trying to feed him porridge garnished with chicken fat, and I keep sneaking him pound cake on the sly.  But in the end I am very glad that the people who saved Brave's life were the same people who brought him into this world 18 months ago, and the same people who told us, 4 months before that, that we were going to be the parents of another baby boy.  My friend, Darci, wanted us to name him Thai, a suggestion which gets more and more applicable as time goes on.

p.s.  I would like to note, with MUCH gratitude, that if it were not for Dr. T and his devoted attention to Brave's symptoms and to his own gut-feelings, I might not be writing about hospital food and enemas.  Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, Dr. T.  
Whenever Bright is asked where he is from, he says, "I am from Kentucky."  He likes it that he is the only member of our family who can claim that place, and he claims it proudly, even calling it his "homeland."  In Bright's terms, then, I guess you could say that we are in Brave's homeland.  My tastebuds sure are enjoying the stay!

December 04, 2010

bowels in an uproar

A section of Brave's intestine slid inside of itself this week, much like the pieces of a telescope.  The condition, called Intussusception, is completely treatable if caught in time, but becomes more critical if not treated quickly.  Left untreated it would lead to death.  Our big problem was that by the time we discovered what was going on, via ultrasound on Friday morning, he had been having unexplainable stomach pain around the clock for 5 days.  Time was of the essence, and Brave and I caught the next flight to Bangkok.
After a quick ultrasound-confirmed diagnosis from the Thai doctors, Brave was raced in for a barium enema.  This is a non-surgical way of straightening the intestine, and is always tried first.  It has an 80% success rate.  In our case, it worked!  Brave endured a very painful and messy 30 minutes with his pants down, but what could have been horrible was corrected in less than an hour without a scalpel, and after a few days of fluids and observation, we will be headed home.
What caused it?  An infection, determined by the discovery of swollen lymph glands.  How common is it?  1 in 1,000 kids will get it.  How blessed are we that we have access to good medical care and therefore our kid is sleeping peacefully with nothing but a sedation hangover?  VERY.

My dad used to say, "Calm down, now.  Don't get you're bowels in an uproar."  I wish Brave would listen more closely to his Grandpa! 

December 01, 2010


This post is not about the current legal drinking age in the U.S.  You see, there is one little girl and one little boy over here in East Asia who are looking forward to turning 21 for a different reason: their parents have said that at that time, they may get married.
They both have pretty good taste, don't you think?  Kayleigh's daddy keeps "joking" that he won't allow it, but who is he kidding?!  Unless he wants his little redhead to join a convent or something, you just can't do any better than a Rupp boy.  Of course, I'm biased, but you know.

November 27, 2010

"Hey! Unto you a child is born!"

I would tell any new parent that any good parenting strategy begins with a good home-library.  Everything from the Holy Book itself, to What to Expect When You're Expecting, to The Little Bear Treasury.  Fill your shelves with Dr. Dobson, Beatrix Potter, and A.A. Milne.  Read to understand.  Read to laugh, read to cry, read to be brought into the deeper things of life.  Read to your kids.

And this Christmas, do yourself and everyone around you a favor and re-read Barbara Robinson's The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  I did, just now, on the couch in my pajamas while Brave took his morning nap and Daniel was away with the big boys teaching Sunday school.  I read it to screen it for its 5-year-old appropriateness, and I ended up laughing out loud for 2 hours and then collapsing into a blubbering heap (seriously) as I finished the last page.  I cried because G0D so loved the world that he sent his only son - to a barn in the middle of the night - to save dirty sinners like Imogene Herdman...and me.

Oh that I would live my life shouting roughly and with a raw heart, "Hey!  Unto you a child is born!"

November 26, 2010

because we have to have a real "tree"

When you have to go to a place like this to buy a potted evergreen because you are a purist and you have to have a real tree in a land that does not celebrate Christmas...
...and because of the drought (best we can figure) there are no evergreens being sold for landscaping purposes this year, you are forced to bring home a cone-shaped shrub.
They don't seem to mind.
After all, when hung with colored lights and our homemade paper-chain and our treasured family ornaments, any old green plant will do.  So much for being purists.  Bonus: I won't be wiping sap from every bulb this year.

November 25, 2010

Thanks for nothing

What is Thanksgiving?  I'll tell you what it is not.  It is not trying to convince a 1-year-old that he should be wearing a paper Indian headdress.
It is not 45 minutes EACH WAY in a taxi with tired kids, in order to get to the store on the north side of the city where one can buy fresh, American-style parsley for the Thanksgiving stuffing.
It is not the FIVE DAYS of taking care of a batch of sourdough starter in order to make sourdough bread for the stuffing.
It is not the homemade pork sausage (for the same stuffing) that started as a slab of pig flesh on a board in the open-air market.
It is not forcing the kids to wear shirts with buttons so we can wrangle them into the couch for a (not very successful) holiday family photo.
It is not even this...
Thanksgiving is the phone call from my mother-in-law who is eating turkey and mashed potatoes at the cafeteria of Little Rock Childrens' Hospital with Kerry, Philip and Eliana, while Glory gets fed something (certainly not turkey) through a feeding tube in the Intensive Care Unit. Thanksgiving is my parents eating their pumpkin pie in a quiet house because their grandkids are at their mother's today, on account of the divorce that Jack and Denise are going through.

One might think that our families don't have much to be thankful for this year.   Does my family thank G0D for vows not kept - for the tears of their grandchildren?  Does Daniel's family thank G0D for giving them a child with broken organs?  Do they thank him for the 4 1/2 months away from home, wondering which kiss planted on Glory's cheek will be her last?  Do they thank him for the first of many, many Thanksgivings without Sue Sue and her cooking tips shouted from her mauve recliner?  Do they thank him for calling Daniel and I and our kids to the other side of the world where we are spending our third Thanksgiving in a row away from them?  Most people would expect our family members to say this year, "Thanks for nothing."  No one would blame them if they did.

But not OUR families.  Our families know something that too many families don't:  this life is not all there is, and THANK G0D for that.  Kerry told me the other day that the families at LRCH who don't have this hope, act completely different than those who do.  They are absolutely desperate, she says, at any and all costs to the child, to keep their child "alive," while those who know the truth are at peace, though broken, and are not afraid to watch their children slip away into the arms of the One who created them.

No, our families are not saying, "Thanks for nothing."  They are thanking G0D for the 4 months they have had with the tough and smiling Glory Danielle, and the 65 years that Shari had with her mother by her side, and the kind nurses at Little Rock Childrens' Hospital, and the cooks who are working on Thanksgiving to give these heroic families a holiday meal.  My parents are thanking G0D for the nice girl who came with Jack to Thanksgiving dinner.  They are thanking him for blessing their daughter, Kayla, with a husband who seeks G0D with all of his heart and who is helping her to raise Bright, Zion, and Brave to do the same.  Most of all, though, our families, myself included, are thanking G0D for defeating death three days after Calvary and for giving us hope in the everlasting.

When marriage certificates are burned and children live with one toe in the grave and the long-able bodies of our mothers finally expire, we despair not - for we have a G0D that does not change and a future with him that does not have an end.

That is something to be thankful for.

November 22, 2010

Zion's world

Zion's future, through his eyes, is a life as a seaplane pilot in Michigan with a wife named Naomi.  There is no end to the imagination of that kid.  Behind his pallid blue eyes lies a whole other world.

November 20, 2010

Jerry Rademaker

This one's for you, Dad.

Jerry Rademaker is a great man.  If his mother hadn't named him Gerald Edward, we would have certainly named one of our sons after him.  He is kind.  He works hard.  He is the most peculiar combination of smart and goofy, surprising and predictable, gentle and impatient.  He is good with a spatula and a shaker of seasoning.  He retains gobs of useless information (with a whole lot of useful stuff thrown in).  He is good with babies and son-in-laws and strangers on the street.  He brushes his teeth for an insane amount of minutes every morning, and reads the entire paper on the john while draining two giant mugs of black coffee.  My mom says, "Your father has two speeds: 1,000,000 miles per hour, and asleep."
My dad took me camping every summer as a kid.  He taught me how to put up a tent, and how to take a fish off the hook.  He was home every night for dinner, and every night my brothers and I would run to greet him like we were running to greet the ice cream truck.  Many evenings, while Mom scraped the dishes, I would stand behind him at his place at the head of the table and comb his thick, wavy hair into silly styles that made me laugh.  He used to pay me a nickle a minute (or was it a dime?) to give him a back rub on the couch during the evening news.  Every morning he stands up from the bed and tucks a collared shirt into a pair of pants with a belt, sliding into a pair of navy blue socks with brown loafers, and stuffing his pockets with his billfold, money clip, hankie, hair comb, roll of breathmints, and loose change.  He drives like he has a laboring woman in the backseat who is about to give birth on the floorboard, all the while blaring The Eagles or Hal Ketchum or C.C.R.  He can tell any dumb joke in such a way that has the whole room rolling, and he can look you in the eye in such a way that puts you at ease.
My dad with his sister, Jan, and his brother, Dick
My dad set the standard for me.  I knew that I could never settle for a man who didn't put his family first, who didn't admit when he was wrong, and who quit when the going got tough.  I knew I could not live with a man who didn't laugh, who didn't value children, and who wasn't a good listener.  Jerry Rademaker is a great man.  I love you, Daddy.

November 19, 2010

Update on Glory Girl

There is REAL cause to rejoice, and cause to thank you all for your "chorus of prayers" as my mom described what she felt like she was joining at 8:45 a.m. on the 17th. In Kerry's words, "Still waiting to see how Glory recovers from her surgery...prayers for her kidneys and bleeding were answered...her main issue at this point is her left lung, which collapses and causes her oxygen to drop among other things. They are keeping her completely sedated for a few more days thinking she may need more time to heal..."

Let not the prayers drop off now, my friends. We are watching a miracle take place. Kerry wrote in an email last week, "I will tell you this, the other night I had a dream. It was not a vivid dream set in our reality; it was more like an idea placed in my head. Someone was pulling me out of the way, out of the way of something big. Whoever or whatever was pulling me out of the way was communicating to me that I needed to 'Move out of the way…God is getting ready to do something big.'"

November 18, 2010

First meeting Lily Todd

Our friends, Sonya and Travis, meeting their daughter Lily for the first time this week. I CAN'T BELIEVE this is going to happen to us. This video made my heart literally want to burst.

November 17, 2010


Keep praying

"In the room with Glory...she is ok but has a long recovery ahead. The next 48 hours will be critical for her...thank you for all of your prayers...please pray that her bleeding subsides and that her kidneys are minimally affected by being on bypass..." (Kerry)

November 16, 2010

Pray for Glory

Glory has a very major surgery on Wednesday, November 17, during which time she will be put on the bypass machine. Please pray for the doctors and for Kerry and Philip and Shari, and for Glory herself to be strong and resilient.

This surgery was not in the plans. They have recently found that "her pulmonary artery did not grow after her first heart surgery the way that it was supposed to. In addition, her left lung is very weak and underdeveloped and her left bronchial tube is completely collapsed when she exhales. These two new findings are very serious, and they are complicated further by her existing esophagus issue. After much discussion amongst Glory’s doctors, they believe the best next step for her is to do another heart surgery" (Kerry Morton).

Kerry wrote in an email yesterday, "Do you know what scare[s] me? Not that her years might be cut short here on this earth, but my overwhelming love for her. I admitted to myself that I was in love with her. It scared me beyond belief to be so in love with someone and also not know how much time I would get to spend with her."

Kerry's email went on to say that some of the best advice she has received is from another Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome mom named Sarah who's son, Bowen, has the same heart condition as Glory. Her advice was to "hold on loosely." What great advice! We should all love that way: completely, wholeheartedly, but with the understanding that our loved one does not belong in our tight grasp (nor is it even possible to contain her there).

Join with Daniel and I today (and the rest of Van Buren, Arkansas) in praying for Glory. Pray that the surgery will go well. Pray that she will recover quickly and impressively. Pray that her little body will endure this first year and all of the surgeries that she needs. Pray, as I have been, for a 20th birthday.

November 15, 2010

rag top

You know those times when you embark on something completely worthless just for the fun of it?  That was me last night.  Daniel was finally organizing his closet office.  I could have read from the 4th THE NO. 1 LADIES DETECTIVE AGENCY book, but then my cute husband and I could not have visited.  Instead, I sat on the futon among the power cords and sawdust, and cut up an old pair of pajama pants into strips and then proceeded to wrap my long, straight hair around the strips and tie them in knots at the top.  I had seen it done before in a movie or something and it sounded like a rather interesting way to spend two hours.
Please pardon the closeup.  My arm is not very long.
The morning result. 
I think it turned out ok, though I look a little silly in my house clothes with costume-worthy hair.  Next time I have an entire evening free (i.e. when I am in my 50's) I might just try rag curls again.