May 30, 2010


This morning I am not sitting in the pew.  That happens sometimes.  Daniel and Bright are there, and the little ones and I are at home in our pajamas, napping, potty training, and blogging.

I thought this would be a good time to post this picture:
Bright designed this pillow structure last week.  When I came into the room and complimented his nice fort he said, "It is not a fort, it is a sanctuary.  It is a place of worship."

We spent the next 20 minutes taking turns crawling carefully in and out of the sanctuary to worship.  I was proud, inspired, and truly touched by the blessing of this.  On so many levels, this was just...right.

We've said it before, and we'll say it again.  Thank you, Rev. Bright.

May 29, 2010

Things I've been missing

Today was the kind of day that I dream about from East Asia.

The highlights of the day?  Ahhh...where do I begin?

1. Tortilla chips with Rotel-Velveeta dip.
2. Catching fireflies in a backyard with my kids, and plunking them into jars with lids.
3. Thick, clean, green grass between my toes.
4. The sound of tree frogs.
5. Cold cans of Diet Dr. Pepper in the fridge.
6. Birthday cake from a pink bakery in Cedarville called Sweet Boutique.
7. Towns with names like Cedarville.
8. Blue Bell vanilla ice cream.
9. Shopping all afternoon with Bright in stores with names like "The Calico Goose."
10. Purchasing a $12 bar of handmade herb-and-aloe soap from "The Soap Factory" downtown, simply because I wanted to give them my business.

I love my life in East Asia.  I miss my friends there, and my little green kitchen, and our neighbors, and the millions of people in our city who have never heard the good news of great joy that is for all people. 


I am having one heck of a time here in the U.S. of A. 

May 27, 2010

Love letter

It is the day after our 8th anniversary, and I am going to write something sappy to my man.  Those of you who are squeamish, beware!
I remember the week that I met you.  At quick glance, you were a well-built, incredibly good-looking guy with tousled hair and a scruffy face.  Digging a little further, you were a task-oriented, talented, hilarious, confident, and respectful young Christi@n man with a heart for the lost and a funny way of making people feel at ease.  The night you proposed to me, on that dock beneath the stars in Mississippi, I realized that you know what you want and you go for it.  After becoming your wife, I began to fall more and more in love with you, a process that continues to this day.  When I look at you, I smile.  You do not accessorize.  You choose your words carefully.  You do not offer yourself to just anyone.  You are not easily shaken.  You live in a place that very few people ever find, a place where your heart and your mind are in balance.

I could not admire you more.

All my love forever,

May 26, 2010

They sure go togetherrrrr

Today is the 26th of May, which happens to be our 8th wedding anniversary. Congratulations to us!

While I was inside Paul's Bakery buying donuts, Daniel sat in the car with the kids, beneath an increasingly gray and shifting sky, listening to NPR.  Apparently, May 26 was not only the day we were married, but it was also the day that Martin Luther was declared a heretic and his writings were outlawed, Napoleon was crowned king of Italy, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was founded, and Lenny Kravitz, John Wayne, and astronaut Sally Ride were born.

My interest was perked, so I did a little research of my own and discovered that today was also the day that Abraham Lincoln signed an enabling act creating the territory of Montana, which just so happens to be where we went on our honeymoon!  Today was also the day that the San Fransisco Golden Gate Bridge opened, and the day that Star Wars debuted.

But for us, it was a day to stay home with the kids in our pjs, make a donut run, and sit around the kitchen table singing, "Donuts and rain, donuts and rain, they sure go togetherrrrrr" (a little tune the kids made up) while sipping on cold milk and listening to thunder.
Some anniversaries are spent carefully applying paint to toenails and slipping into little black dresses.  On the other hand, some are spent on the couch in comfy T-shirts and uncombed hair.
Some anniversary gifts come in little felt-covered boxes.  On the other hand, some come in the form of a little boys' hands, bent into the shape of a heart.

May 25, 2010

Baby Blues

My last baby is rapidly gaining on toddlerhood, and I am very unhappy about it.  Our fourth and (barring a direct call from on high) final child will not come home until she is already a toddler.  Sadly, someone else will be watching her learn to crawl, stand, and babble.  That means that Brave, our 11-month-old, will be the last thing that looks like this in our home until the grandkids start rolling in:
I can not express how hard this is for me to face.  It feels like just a few years ago I was calling home from summer camp, asking my mom if I could start shaving my legs.  Now I am more than likely finished...finished...with childbearing.  How is that possible?  Will I really never carry another pregnancy test into the bathroom with shaky hands, hoping like crazy that it will be positive?  When Brave nurses for the last time in the weeks to come (something I will cry over for days on end, I'm sure), will I never again hold a ravaged baby to my chest and feel sustainance being shared between mother and child?  Oh the ache in my heart at the thought of it.  The "ring of fire" will never again signal the end of labor and the beginning of a child's lifetime.  There will be no more circumcisions to salve, no more cradle cap to pick at, no more black umbilical cord stumps to pull off with the diaper and throw away with a sigh and a lament at how fast time goes by.  So many times I have thrown up in the toilet while holding an ultrasound picture for encouragement, wishing that I could just get through that time.  And now I'm through it, realizing what a sore mistake it is to wish time away.

I am told that this feeling is normal, and I would be having this struggle at the end of childbearing no matter how many children I have.  Apparently, I will always be a tinge jealous when my friends announce a pregnancy, or a birth.  I will always cry with real grief as I shove my face into old blue onesies, worn three times over and smelling faintly of spit up and Johnson's Baby Wash and Desitin.  I will turn them over and touch the yellow poop stains along the thigh openings, and the third snap that is missing, and the embroidered words, "Mommy's Little Star" across the lapel, and I will long, with a longing that is unfulfillable, to hold those three baby boys just one more time.

My friend, Darci, told me that her mother had two dreams last month that she was pregnant.  She is 60 years old.

I guess it never goes away.

So for now, I will get up from the computer and answer Bright's present call for his bottom to be wiped. Then in a moment, when Zion wakes up from his nap, I will smooth away his sweaty mop of hair and hold him until he is fully awake. Then, a moment after that, I will set him down and reach into the pack-n-play in the closet to retrieve my little Brave. I will pull him into my arms on the bed and nurse him briefly, oh so briefly, drinking in the scent of him, stroking his petal-soft skin, and then I will put him down on the floor with his brothers and watch him crawl away.

May 21, 2010


Years ago, when we had just one child, we had the bright idea of making Daniel's mother a wooden "charm sign" from which she could hang "charms" (also made by us, cut from wood and painted) with the names of her grandchildren.  That was back when we had more time on our hands than we realized, though our one child would manage to send us to bed each night exhausted.  Now when we have just one of our children in our care for a day, we feel like we are on vacation!  What a breeze.  Anyway, that's beside the point.  The point is, those charms have been adding up over the years, and every time we are back in town it seems that Daniel is hauling out his saw to cut up another piece of wood.  I will have to say, however, that the sign and its charms, with all of its colors and beautiful names representing beautiful children, and all of the love that has gone into making it, is really something to behold.  And I would be lying if I told you that we haven't had lots of fun helping Shari show the world the family that she has been blessed with.  We sure have been blessed to have a grandma like MoMo!!!

I snapped this picture the other day of Daniel and Bright working on the three newest charms, a royal blue shield with "Brave" written in yellow letters, a rich purple flower for Baby Morton, due in July, and a silver shining trumpet with "Jubilee" scrolled across it in metallic pink for our soon-to-be-adopted daughter.

May 20, 2010

The woman I want to be

There really is no one in this world, other than your spouse, of course, who knows you and loves you like your mom.  Mine is no exception.

My mom is kindness with arms and legs.  She is compassion with lipstick.  Her heart beats for two things and two things only in this world:  my dad, and everyone else lucky enough to be part of her family.

She makes the world's best lemon-meringue pie and always knows just the right thing to say.  She is happy just being outdoors, or where her loved ones are, or preferrably both.  She could live on peanut butter and granola.  She finds a shirt that fits her well and she will buy one in every color and that is her wardrobe for that year.  She is simple and delightful, always being told that she looks and acts younger than she is.  It takes her months to make a decision, but once she does, she will have the same sofas in her living room for 20 years (and somehow keeps them looking like new).

My mom and I are almost nothing alike (though we have the same voice and the same sense of humor), but we are as close as mothers and daughters get, even across the miles.  I am so glad you are here for a few days, Mom.  I only wish our visits weren't always so short.
And now you can journey with my mom on her new blog, The Full Nest.

The Eighteenth of May

On May 18th, 2007, in the wee hours of the morning, I gave birth to the tiniest full-term baby anyone had ever seen.  His Daddy named him Zion.
On May 18th, 2010, at three minutes shy of noon, my dear friend Candace Chaney gave birth to a chunky baby son in Louisiana.  They named him Asher.  Happy Birthday, Asher!  We can't wait for a lifetime of TWO birthday boys to celebrate on the 18th of May.
While Candace was laboring in Shreveport, Zion was waking up a 3-year-old for the first time, eating Lucky Charms (a birthday treat), and playing with his new remote control car.
After breakfast, we drove to the airport to pick up GRANDMA, who flew in from Michigan to see us for the first time since her visit to East Asia last Spring.  It was a joyous moment for everyone!  I was especially excited.  In all the world, there is no one quite like your own mom.
Later that afternoon, we headed to Chuck E. Cheese's to celebrate our little 3-year-old.
Here is his reaction to seeing Chuck E. Cheese coming out to greet him.
Needless to say, he did not like "The Big Mouse," as he called him. Poor little guy.
Zion Daniel Rupp, you are the spunk in my life, the bounce in my hallway, the sweet voice that interupts my anxious thoughts, the tiny hand that touches away my frowns.  You are the thread of affection in our home, the instigator of love, the faucet of joy.  You are Bright's best friend, Brave's comedian, Daddy's little buddy, and my biggest fan.  Happy, happy birthday to you!  May your loving heart belong always to the One who made you and loves you best of all.

May 16, 2010


While trying to keep Brave happy in the halls this morning (and thus missing much of the sermon, of course) I heard Zion's voice coming from the Sunday school wing.  I moved closer to it, being very careful to stay out of sight.  I heard him ask his teacher, "Is Bwight in there?"  "No," she sweetly replied, "Bright is in his class."  "Oh," said Zion, "Can we go see him?  He is my bwother."

May 12, 2010

A hundred years of down home

A favorite form of nostalgia for Daniel and me is listening to country music from the 80's. Surprisingly, I grew up listening to country music every day of my northern life.  "Born Country," by Alabama, is one of our mutual favorites.  As a kid, I loved to croon out the line, "I've got a hundred years of down home, runnin' through my blood," even though my blood contains only midwestern suburb.  Something about country music rings true for anyone with a heart, in my opinion.

As I basked in the sun on my parents' pool deck with my Walkman, listening to Hank Williams Jr., The Judds, Travis Tritt, Sawyer Brown, and Alan Jackson, I dreamt of someday marrying a real southern country boy.  Da'gummit if that isn't exactly what I did.  And now, we are breeding southern country boys.  Our sons, who have been born all over the place and lived all over the place, are somehow growing into southern-style young gentlemen.

I guess it's in their blood.

Tiny Dancer

Dear Eliana,

This is your Auntie K.  You are the first niece I ever had, and you will always have a special place in my heart.  Your soft brown curls, bounding step, and sparkling blue eyes are impossible to resist.  You do your own thing, that's for sure, but there is nothing wrong with that!  You sing yourself to sleep, and recently have been singing songs from the musical "Cats," which you saw with your mommy and daddy.  You can hold your own with my boys, which is a good skill to have.  You love babies and will be a GREAT big sister in a couple of months.

The other night was your first dance recital.  You did your own thing on stage, which was adorable and admirable at the same time.  All eyes were on you, and the audience just ate you up.  Uncle D took pictures of you beforehand and I will post a few here for you to look at years from now when you are packing your car for college.  Never doubt how much you are loved, or how beautiful you are, or how happy we all are to help you become the woman God made you to be.
And here you were trying to hide from Uncle D and his camera. He got you anyway, and this one is our favorite!

May 11, 2010

Old Timers' Day at its best

What happens when you combine a trip to Van Buren's annual Old Timers' Day with a visit from Phom Sisoukrath (Daniel's dear friend since gradeschool, a computer engineer and professional photographer)?  I'll tell you what you get.  Great pictures!
Ok, I had to take a few pictures of my own (since the photographer is rarely in the shot). Here is Daniel with Phom, who became Daniel's buddy in grade school when Phom and his family came to America from Laos.
Gotta love small town festivals. Does it get any more American?

May 10, 2010

Where a kid can be a kid!

Allison Hilliard was sent to us for more than just me.  She is near and dear to the hearts of my children as well.

Her birthday present for Bright this year was a cup of Chuck E. Cheese tokens, which we put to good use on Friday.  Many tokens went toward keeping a buck-toothed 10-month-old happily bumping around in the Bob the Builder ride.

A few tokens went toward the safari jeep ride.

Many, many tokens went toward skee ball.

The pony ride is sure to bring smiles.

Some fun requires no tokens at all.

My mother-in-law, Shari, my sister-in-law, Kerry, and me.

Ms. Allison.  Thanks for the fun, my friend!

May 08, 2010

Welkom home.

According to a recent Gallup poll, my hometown (Holland, Michigan) is the second happiest place in America. Boulder, CO came in first and Honolulu came in third.

Holland is unlike any other place on earth. Located on Lake Michigan, it has light brown beaches that march on forever in both directions. The lake itself is called a freshwater sea. It is the largest lake entirely within one country in the world (by surface area, not volume). There is no way to see all the way across it.  Holland is also home to the largest pickle factory in the world (I am not joking), and it's downtown is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

But the most unique feature of my childhood town of 35,000 people is our extremely Dutch heritage.  The sign at the entrance to our town reads, "Welkom to Holland."  The "V" section of the phonebook far outweighs any other letter.  Everywhere you look you see tall, light-haired people with big feet.  Regardless of your ethnic background, however, you are required to dress your kids like Dutch children from centuries ago (costumes DO undergo inspection) and send them down the street every May for the Kinder Parade.  Pictured below is my nephew, Jack, and his class in the Kinder Parade the other day.

Our town includes Dutch Village, the Veldheer Tulip Gardens, the Holland Museum, Windmill Island (complete with "De Zwaan," a grain-grinding, 240-year-old, ten-story-tall Dutch windmill that sells its own flour), and two wooden shoe factory tours. Everyone who visits can try on a pair.  Every May, along with the Kinder Parade, we have the Volksparade (where the whole town, or whoever wants to, dresses in traditional Dutch costumes and marches down the parade route with buckets of water and push brooms).  Traditionally, the Volksparade's purpose was to clean the horse dung from the streets before the big event (the Dutch are VERY clean people) but anymore it is a good excuse to throw water on your neighbors and have a good time.  The main event is called the Meijer Muziekparade, which draws crowds from around the world. The parade route is lined with Tulips.  A whopping 6 million Tulips are used throughout the city every Spring, and the fee for picking one can be as high $100.  Below, for your viewing enjoyment, are "then and now" pictures of the very popular klompen dancing.  Teenage girls are either soccer players or klompen dancers, for the most part.

Our Highschool athletics are called The Holland Dutch (I know, not very creative).  Our mascot when I was there was a giant wooden shoe named "Woody."  I'm not joking about that, either.  The college in our town and my alma mater, Hope College, are the Flying Dutchmen.  You guessed it, a wooden shoe with wings.

So there you have it, Holland, a little blog tribute to you.  Though I am not within your borders this May, I am thinking of you and wishing you the best.  If I close my eyes, I can feel the sunny wind along your shores and smell the Tulips and the pickles and the fudge and the elephant ears, all the way from Arkansas.