November 30, 2012

Jack, the Christmas Jack-O-Lantern

Day five without Daddy, and this mama has had it up to here.  The discipline load was so heavy today that we hardly cracked a book in school.  By 4 p.m., I was thinking, 'It's either time for me to get drunk, or throw out the daily plan and do something fun.'

Just kidding about that first option, friends.  I haven't been drunk in 12 years and the only alcohol I ever buy is for cooking (though even cooking wine looked good today).  Of course, we decided to do something fun.

Back in October when we were visiting our friend's village, we picked a pumpkin.  It has been sitting by our front door for almost two months now, looking all pale and twisty and classy.  The kids begged me all through October to carve it up into a Jack-O-Lantern, but I just couldn't bear to demote my lovely pumpkin from classy to tacky.

Today, I took a knife, and Christmas Season be that as it may, I stuck the flesh of my poor, unsuspecting squash (who had grown to trust me, I sadly think) and in a flurry I carved a classic Jack-O-Lantern face while my kids squealed with delight.  Afterward, the pumpkin and I stared each other down, my sardonic smile matching his, tooth for tooth.  What can I say?  I'd had a tough week, and the pumpkin was past its prime.  It was a perfect storm.

We stuck a candle in him, curled a red ribbon around his stem, and put him back by the front door, where he will stay until the New Year, I'm sure.  The kids named him Jack.

Jack, the Christmas Jack-O-Lantern.

Better than AA.

November 29, 2012

my friend Zak

Hello, this is Bright E. Rupp, the son of Kayla Rupp. I am 7 years old. I have just learned to type; and this is my first blog post! First, I am going to tell you the story about Zak. First of all, I know you are wondering who Zak is; he is an alien(stuffed animal) from the star(star not planet) Zuum. I ordered him with my tooth money. I had made a welcome-home sign two days ago, and his arrival all started when a package came: my mom said "If Zak is not in this package he will be in the next one." Well, I found a small box that said in big letters: open here. so I did. Inside was a bag. I 93% knew what would be in it. So of course I opened the bag and that was the very first time I saw Zak in real life. Now, I also had another alien named Jupiter from Jupiter. There is a story about him too and that is hole another story, but I will tell you anyway. It all started when grandma was knitting a teddy bear for Brave R. Rupp. But when Jupiter came, a note came with it; it said: 'Sorry! The teddy bear is green like an alien!' But we liked him as an alien so we named him Jupiter and he was our alien!
So Jupiter mite have also been desperately wanting Zak to come home!                   

November 27, 2012

a teddy bear in my bed

Daniel is out of town for the week, which means that one of my major appliances will break and one of the kids will what?  That's right.  Get sick. 

This week it is Bright's turn, apparently.  He has been having respiratory issues lately.  When he gets a cold, it goes right to his chest and affects his breathing, giving him a relentless cough which keeps him up at night.  Daniel's absence this week is a bit convenient, actually, as Bright fits right in bed with me where I can listen to his breathing.  Two nights ago, when he was at his worst and there was not going to be a wink of rest between us, we just said forget it and I popped popcorn and we propped the portable DVD player on the comforter and we watched The Sound of Music in bed together.  It was a lovely memory with my son which you won't catch me ever forgetting.

The next morning, I took these two pictures.  My brother, Jack, gave the teddy bear to me as a present when I was a girl, and now he belongs to Bright and goes by the name of Tree Trunk.  Tree Trunk has been bunking up with me these past few nights as well.  I guess he and Bright are a package deal.  It makes me think of my little brother and I like every bit of it.
Today, I am happy to report that the antibiotics and breathing treatments are kicking in and Bright is feeling much better.  Well enough to grab the camera, anyway, and take this picture of George Fuzzy eating celery, his favorite snack, while wearing a cowboy hat.

November 25, 2012

Food Club

I have lived in East Asia for almost 4 1/2 years and I have managed to make only American and European friends, probably because our co-workers until August were all Americans, and Europeans are close enough;)  Not only that, but it's one thing to eat tortillas every day and sleep in a hammock in a hut during a short-term trip to the Yucatan (I know because I did that in high school), but its another thing altogether to sell all of your stuff and move your entire family to another country indefinitely. In that case, a gal tends to make a home for herself much like the home she had in the old country. 

I remember as a kid judging questioning the Mexican-American immigrants in our town who bought homes in the same vicinity as one another and decorated their porches alike and spoke Spanish to each other and to their kids and celebrated Mexican holidays and ate Mexican food.  You are in America, now, I ignorantly thought, why don't you branch out a little?

Let's just say that I have eaten those words a thousand times since moving overseas in 2008.  Chewed 'em up and swallowed 'em.

Me, stirring up a cheesecake at Food Club.
And now, I am finally taking my own advice.  I am branching out a little.  You are looking at the co-coordinator of a multicultural community group for women centered around the theme of cooking.  Otherwise known as Food Club.

Ohhhhhh, friends, Food Club is where it's at!   Alisa and I teach our Chinese, Singaporean, and Filipino friends how to make meatloaf (your recipe, Lydia Harrigan) and twice-baked potatoes and cheesecake, and they teach us how to make pull-apart toffeed sweet potatoes and stewed ribs with star anise and chili paste.  Mmmmmmm.  The eatin' is so good and the fellowship is even better, as we share from our hearts and our pasts in two different languages and learn how The Father has done mighty works in each of our lives.

It is sweet.  All of it.  I am blessed, blessed, blessed by this tasty new part of my life!!

November 23, 2012

friends like these

Few things are as wonderful as a visit from the Hedden family.  Cold turkey-and-mayo sandwiches, maybe.  Pumpkin lattes on the roof.  Popcorn and Elf under a blanket on Thanksgiving night.  That last plate of stuffing with hot gravy before bed.  These things come close, but hosting 7 of the 11 Heddens the week of Thanksgiving tops it all. 

We had a week to remember.  xxoo
Andrew, Jubilee, Brave, Zion, Isaac, Bright, and Natalie.

November 16, 2012


We all judge our coffee by it's color (unless we drink it black).  When the color is right, we stop pouring the cream.  Too white and the stuff is too milky to drink.  Too dark and it is bitter. 

We all know to pull the cake from the oven when its aroma reaches the living room.  Sure, we grab a toothpick and poke it, because the cookbook tells us to, but we already know.

The holidays are coming.   For you, the signs mights be glaringly obvious, but over here we must rely on our keener senses.  The leaves don't change color, there are no toy commercials on TV (there is no TV at all), and there are no cornucopia decals in the window at Wendy's (as if there were a Wendy's). 

But nonetheless, I can feel them coming.  My cinnamon and nutmeg are whispering back and forth to each other in the pantry, as if gearing up for the game.  People are discussing who is hosting a meal next week and who will be a tupperware-toting guest.  Should we go with a marshmallow topping or a pecan topping on the sweet potato casserole?  How about one of each?  Should we make sure there are two pumpkin pies or should we change things up with a chocolate cream pie?  Is an 8 kilo turkey going to be big enough?  Why, oh why did my bread machine have to keel over this week?  Such unfortunate timing.  Even as I say it, there are happy jitters in my voice, because I have stocked up on butter and flour and sugar and THE HOLIDAYS ARE COMING!

The holidays aren't the only expected visitors.  No siree.  Tomorrow, our dear, dear friends the Heddens will arrive after a 17 hour train ride from our former city, to stay with us until Friday!  Yahoo!  There will be much coffee-drinking and cake-eating and pajama-wearing, and tear-crying and story-telling and time-enjoying.  Having friends-that-feel-like-family visiting from out of town really makes it feel like the holidays!

I think I just heard a whoop and holler from the cinnamon and the nutmeg. 

November 15, 2012

eye of the tiger

I have a crush on my husband.

Tonight was date night.  We went to The Lazy Pug, a dark little den of a restaurant tucked under the street, run by an American gal with a sweet disposition.  We like it there.  As we ate our chips and salsa, I looked across the table at my man.  He's 33 years old now.  He has lost the gangly teenage look that he still had when we married.  He's sturdy, and steady, and respectable.  Tell me if those aren't attractive traits!  I rested my hand in his and I said, smiling, "I like who you're becoming."

This morning, at the breakfast table, after he led us in our morning devotions, Daniel led us in a sweeping rendition of "Eye of Tiger," complete with air jabs that would rival Rocky himself.  The kids looked puzzled (I was laughing hysterically) so we had to gather around youtube and watch the music video/movie clip where Rocky and Mr. T duke it out in the ring.

Working-out has come back into my husband's routine, as you can see from the pic.  He jumps rope.  I don't know if you've tried jumping rope for half an hour, but it is HARD TO DO.  I can't do it.  I tried.  Daniel can, and he tears it up out there in the cool night smog.  I hear the smick-smack of the rope and I admire.  

Daniel has a really tough job this year.  You may not know this, but he doesn't speak English anymore at work, or at least very little.  Sometimes when he gets home in the evenings, his English sounds funny, as if he's trying to construct sentences like he does in his other language.  It makes me smile.  He's tried so hard these last four years to learn how to speak to the people in this country.  I am so proud of him.

But it's hard.  It's exhausting.  He sent me a text this morning, after closing out of youtube and going in to work, and it read, "Just a man and his will to survive."

I told him he needed that printed on a T-shirt.

November 14, 2012


Today?  Let's see...

One lunch-hour marital squabble (aren't those fun?)
One broken crock pot
One breakdown in front of the kids
One house-helper asking for a raise because our apartment is so big (puzzling on so many levels)
One failed cake
One successful cake
Two side-dishes (thankfully I have a backup crock pot)
A full day of home school
All the faces on the coloring page scribbled dark black (counselors out there, any thoughts?)
Two apron strings in the toilet (don't ask)
Four spankings

And three dinner guests coming in an hour.

Yeah.  I know.

November 09, 2012

looped together

There are eight different types of fingerprints.  The type a person has depends on many factors, including sex, race, and specific genetic traits (like eye color, hair color, etc.)  You would think, therefore, that we six Rupps would have prints of varying types.

We don't.

When we collected thumbprints from the right hand of each member of our family for a home school activity this week , every single one of them was an ulnar loop. 

When G0D created Jubilee, He knew which family she would belong to, and He knew the day would come when we would take our fingerprints for home school, and He knew how she would feel when she saw that she was part of the group.  The loop group.  Our Father is so sweet.
(photo courtesy of Jessica Meinardus)

November 08, 2012

six one way, half dozen the other

The election is over.  We have a president for four more years.  Here's what I think about it.

Everybody does something better than somebody else.  For example, I bet you can't do a split leap as well as my husband.  That is a real photo, by the way.  He really can do that.

I bet your scalloped potatoes aren't as good as mine.  If you don't believe me, try them.  If I'm wrong, I'll eat my words. (No lactose-intolerant challengers, please).

5 large baking potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 quart whipping cream
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. pepper

Layer potato slices in a buttered 9x13 baking dish. Stir together cream and remaining ingredients (it will seem like a lot of salt and pepper, but trust it); pour over potatoes evenly. Bake at 400° for 50 minutes or until potatoes are tender, mixture has thickened, and there is a deep brown color all over the top.

In the wake of the election, you may or may not be thinking that America does government better than everybody else.  I tend to think we do, after seeing the way a few other governments do things.  But just because we do government better than others, doesn't mean we are outright better.  We are way behind the Chinese, for example, when it comes to healthy living, using public transportation, delicious street food, and shameless karaoke.  They do a better job at honoring their elders, using discretion, and memorizing information.  Where we only have to memorize 26 letters, they memorize (and flawlessly reproduce) thousands of intricate characters.

They also know better how to share (communism has produced some good qualities), and how to build relationships.  Americans are notoriously individualistic.

Back to the presidential race.  This is the second such election that I have witnessed from afar, and I have to say, I am beginning to enjoy the view from here.  The truth is, both candidates this year would have made good presidents.  In fact, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, or your dad's buddy Jim would be far better leaders than many leaders in the world today.  As Bright put it so well, "I'm cheering for both candidates.  To make it as far as they have, they must be pretty good guys."

November 07, 2012

George F. Rupp

We all make those promises to our animal-loving toddlers.  "When you are seven," we say, "you may have a pet."

Then, in the blink of an eye, that toddler is seven and it turns out that children remember every single thing we say.

Meet our new pet.  A large, docile, 2-month-old bunny.  The children have named him George Fuzzy, and he isn't half bad, if you ask me.  He doesn't bark, he doesn't mind being in his cage (in fact, he rather prefers it), he eats very little and he is gentle and slow-moving.  We are pleased to have George Fuzzy!  A warm thanks to "Uncle John" for bringing him in from the great bunny warehouse - or wherever it is that Uncle John gets these bunnies for all the kids around here.  He's a regular bunny stork, that John G:) long will George live?  How large will he grow?  How long before I am tired of emptying his poop-and-pee tray? (Just kidding about that last one, George).

We shall see.  We shall just see.

November 04, 2012

smell my feet

We used to be those parents who didn't allow their kids to celebrate Halloween.  We aren't those parents anymore.  I'm not sure what happened.  Peer pressure, I guess.  Or maybe, in the 7 years since we've become parents, we've looked evil straight in the face enough times that, really, four little kids in dressup clothes don't really scare us.
What is scary is my oldest running around for a week chanting, "Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat."  We had hoped that living out of the country and all, we might avoid such American cultural unpleasantries.  When I asked Bright where he had heard that phrase, he replied, "I read about it in a book."  Great.  Just like the rest of the world, my children are learning about the USA second-hand, through the media!  Now there's something scary.

Speaking of Americans, there's a bunch of us living in this city, and when we got all of our little ghouls together it was a thing to behold.  You can be sure the neighbors were wondering whether we'd all lost our minds.
How did we pull off trick-or-treating, you ask?  Sonya roped the store-owners on our street into passing out candy to our kids.  The store-owners didn't really know why they were doing it, but they were happy to oblige.  Our kids LOVED IT!  It was like a great, big, chewy bite out of home.  I could almost smell pumpkin guts, dead leaves, and apple cider.


After trick-or-treating there was a rooftop party, where we stuffed our bellies with frosted sugar cookies and orange Fanta, and watched Charlie Brown on a projector against a brick wall at dusk.  I have to say, this mama had about as much fun as any kid there.  It felt so good to act like the American that I am, even if it was in the name of Halloween;)
Dr. Brave with his buddy, Batman (Zeb).
Bright with his buddy, Cameron.

November 01, 2012

Carrie and Kody

Well, Kody might not have sent me a pic of himself in a Halloween costume, but he certainly has made the blog this month!  Today we opened a care package from him and his sweet girlfriend, Carrie!  We were more than thrilled to pull a box of Strawberry frosted Poptarts, a bag of Tootsie rolls, two awesome science toys, and a stack of trucker trading cards (my brother is a trucker) from the belly of a banged-up box.  Those boxes get worked over on their way across the world.  Thankfully, Uncle Kody has a girlfriend (I could stop there, but I'll continue) who carefully filled the empty space with plastic bags so that nothing was damaged.  Carrie coming into our family has more than filled the empty space.  She is wonderful, just wonderful, and we are happy to have her!

Thanks, Carrie and Kody, for the thoughtful package!  We feel cared for, that's for sure.  We miss you both very much.