November 21, 2013

man of the house

We've entered a stage of our lives that takes Daniel away from home for 3-4 days at a time, while his perfectly calm wife stays behind and cares patiently for their four angelic children.


The thing is, no amount of extra stress on me matters when Daniel LOVES what he is currently doing.  How many married dudes can actually say that?

And besides, our 8-year-old assumes the role of man-of-the-house when Daddy is away.  Watching him act sooo big makes my heart swell nearly to bursting.  Yesterday Bright kept telling his siblings, "Guys, let's have manners at the table," and "Guys, Mama doesn't feel well today.  Let's not keep asking her so many questions."

Then when evening came, Bright decided we would have a B1BLE study in the living room.  He read aloud from the book of Jude and we all listened reverently.  He also led us in an interesting discussion about spiritual gifts, and when we got stuck on a question about hospitality, he took it upon himself to ask Siri.  Siri did not have the answer.

I love my little man-of-the-house! (The brown-eyed tough guy, fourth boy from the left.  The cutie in glasses is our vice man-of-the-house)

November 20, 2013

pink-haired llama

The zoo in our city is awesome; rundown and creepy, but totally awesome.

Admission cost is the equivalent of just over 3 US dollars for adults, while kids are free!  The cages (and a very large tortoise) date back to the 70s, as do many of the buildings on its campus.  What is most impressive about our zoo, though, is how WELL the animals are cared for.  No doubt they receive the freshest meat and vegetables every day, as well as supplements made from herbal health remedies.  Heck, they might even undergo the cultural cure-all, acupuncture.  Who knows?  One thing is for certain: Daniel and I have never seen happier, healthier, wilder, more alert, more energetic, more spectacular beasts in all our lives.  It was just plain FUN to be there.

And perhaps the very best part of all was the hokey and hilarious photo booth.  In particular, the props.

There was a camel, of course:

An overly accessorized miniature horse:

And for group shots: a swing with a tethered peacock, a stuffed monkey, and a pink-haired llama.  Yes, the peacock and llama are real.  The monkey, and the blue sky with puffy white clouds, are not.
 (I don't know...the pic's not half bad.  If it weren't for that poop-pan under the bird, we might just send you all a copy for your refrigerators back home;)

November 17, 2013

five seasons

In our family, there are five seasons: spring, summer, fall, winter...and eggnog.

Right now is eggnog season.  It begins on Daniel's birthday, which is October 18, and ends on Easter Sunday.  Hey, I tried to make it shorter, but I had to fight to keep it that short.  If it were up to my man, he would have a hot cup of the stuff every evening of his life.

So here's the recipe, though I think I've posted it before.  And here is a picture of me in my bathrobe making this season's first batch.  Embarrassing, I know.  

3 cups milk
1 cup cream
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
dash salt
2 tsp. vanilla
ground nutmeg

Whisk first 5 ingredients in a saucepan. Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until a film of eggnog stays on the back of the wooden spoon (any more and it will curdle). Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.  Pour into four large mugs or six regular size mugs.  Sprinkle with nutmeg.  Serve.

November 14, 2013

lipstick on a paper cup

Our moms are everywhere.  I see them on the couch, where they sat every morning drinking coffee and reading to the kids.  I see them in the guest bath getting ready for the day, clicking closed their makeup compacts and zipping up their toiletry kits.  I see them in the kitchen washing dishes side-by-side, lightening my load.  I see them stopping at the fifth floor to catch their breath before continuing their ascent to our home, looking down from the stairwell window to the courtyard below. 
I see them on their ipads, Mom playing Words With Friends and trying so hard to beat her friend Michelle. 

I miss them both dearly, with something very near a sting in my chest, but I am reminded of and comforted by the wise words of my eldest son recently. 

"We have a time machine, Mama," Bright said.  "Our memories plus our imaginations."

So even though I have now thrown away the lipstick-stained paper cup which Mom used the morning she left, all I need to do is close my eyes and think about her and I can feel her cheek against mine, powdery soft and still without a wrinkle.  I can hear my mother-in-law's delightful southern drawl.  I can see Mom's green eyes twinkling, I can feel the cool skin of her hands covering mine as I tearfully bid her goodbye.

Because those are the keepsakes I will always have.  My memories, brought to life by my imagination.

Everything else is just lipstick on a paper cup.

November 13, 2013

These twig fire years

Not too long ago, my six-year-old asked me, "Mama, what is TV?"

Yeah.  I know.

My kids may not be able to tell Dora the Explorer from Polly Pocket, but they can tell you how to stoke a twig fire beneath an iron wok.

You probably won't see them throwing in a soccer ball from the sidelines, but you just might find them climbing through a November fruit tree in search of a certain type of citrus which is used in medicinal tea.

Our four little ones don't carry book bags, lunch money, or gym shoes, but last weekend they all carried armfuls of fresh-picked winter vegetables to the table.

And my husband, who has never even cooked from a box of Hamburger Helper, was seen stir-frying pork under the watchful eye of our friend/party host.

So even though our kids would trade places with your kids in a second, our hope is that someday, Bright, Zion, Brave, and Jubilee will look back on these twig fire years and thank G0D for them. 

Daniel and I sure will.

November 11, 2013


Our time with our mothers is up.

There will be no more need for two pots of coffee in the morning.  There will be no more bathrobe discussions about everything from Little House on the Prairie to Sarah Palin.  Gone will be the people-watching sessions, dancing in the living room, dress shopping, and six able hands in the kitchen.  At least Mom won't be able to beat me in Scrabble anymore (by the way, "megawhore" is not an official word in the Scrabble dictionary).

There will be no more makeup in my guest room drawers.  The two women we love most in this world will once again be halfway around the globe.

Our home, and indeed our lives, will seem...

quite simply...


November 09, 2013

Daddy said he'd be there

Bright and Zion competed in a cross country race recently. 

Now even though we love the outdoors, and are highly competitive, and have lots of energy, we are not an athletic family.  Daniel and I don't follow sports, and our kids have few opportunities to compete in athletics.  Which is exactly why when a cross country race presents itself, we grab onto it!  Daniel having played football in Arkansas, and I having been a long-time soccer left fullback, we see the value of sports.

After several weeks of training, race day was finally here!  We told our boys we were proud of them no matter how they placed, but we wanted them to finish.  They said, "Yes, ma'am," and "Yes, sir," and then we hugged them and kissed them and sent them off with the rest of their school's team:)

Daniel Rupp, if we lived in the States, would be one focused sports dad.  I snapped this pic while the coach was explaining the racecourse to the team.  Look at the concentration on that stubbled face. 

Zion, being in the younger age group, was the first to race.  In an attempt to ease Zion's nerves, Daniel promised to be there at certain points along the course.  Zion seemed to relax hearing this, and so our little six year old lined up bravely at the starting line.  Go number 53!

Unfortunately, right after the race began, the officials informed the parents that we must wait at the track for the kids to come back out of the course.

Zion was not going to see Daniel along the way, after all, and there was no way now to tell him. 

After a while, the runners started coming back into view, their little arms pumping, their cheeks flush, their numbers bopping up and down on their chests.  One by one we saw them - redheads, blond pony tails, black curls - but we didn't see a pair of glasses and plaid shorts. 

Then, at the very middle of the pack came Zion, running strong and smiling when he saw me.  We cheered him to the finish, and it wasn't until I held him in my arms that I noticed his red-rimmed eyes and chapped cheeks.

"Daddy said he'd be there," Zion sniffed.  "I kept looking for him, but I never saw him."

"I know, Sweetheart," I said.  "The officials wouldn't let him onto the course.  We're so sorry."

"I cried almost the whole time," Zion said.

"But you finished!" I exclaimed.

"I didn't want to stop," he said. "Because if I stopped running, I wouldn't get to the end of the race."

"Oh, Honey," I said, pulling him closer.

Then he added, "I prayed to God while I was out there.  I asked him please don't leave me.  And you know what, Mommy?  He didn't."

No, he didn't.  And he never will, son.  He never will.

November 06, 2013

You can't argue with that

"Your dad and I don't argue anymore," my mom said. We were standing in the kitchen last week, enjoying close proximity to one another for the first time in over a year.

"Really?" was my response. Arguing had once come as frequently to my parents as junk mail.

"Yes," she said. "After 35 years of marriage, there is nothing left to argue about.  We've both agreed to accept each other, just the way we are.  Every minute spent arguing is a minute we could have spent enjoying each other."

Mom's wise words struck me, and in fact they have shaped the way she and I have been interacting these past two weeks. Don't get me wrong, I still do things that get under her skin, and she mine, but we have made up our minds that enjoying each other is way more important - and way more fun - than bickering over the same old things.

As a result, our conversations have been warm, deep, and fulfilling for us both.
I am determined to choose this form of contentment in all of my relationships. Life is just too short! Of course, should my feelings truly get hurt, it would be unhealthy to bury them.  But the next time I find Daniel's wet towel heaped on top of the dresser, for example, I plan to shake it out, hang it up, and give my precious husband a hug.

November 04, 2013

A breather

Trick or treating - and the huge party that followed - left us all dazzled, buzzing, and exhausted.
Bright (far right) and Brave wanted to be Ninjas, Zion a Tae Kwon Do fighter, and Jubilee a Chinese girl.  Her costume was easy:)
With all of that fun behind us, it was time for a breather.

Daniel and I hadn't been away for the night in years, so when our mothers offered to keep the kids for us this weekend, we readily agreed.

We started our getaway at the the VIP theater, where we saw the new Wolverine movie.  We were served hot lemon tea in our reclining leather chairs, and we loved the movie.

Dinner?  The Lazy Pug, of course.  I have discovered that I am fructose malabsorbent (too much to say about that, but feel free to look it up), and for the last six months I've been living on rice and milk.  An enzyme called Digest Spectrum came in Mom's luggage last week, per my research and request, and low and behold the stuff works!  So I am back to eating things like Lazy Pug ribs!  Hallelujah!

Next up, a stroll through one of the Old Town streets in our city, where we enjoyed a bit of the ancient past.

A strong resemblance.

The next morning, we headed to Starbucks, where I ordered the salted caramel mocha (duh) and Daniel a frappuccino.  We sipped our drinks and played Ticket to Ride on his phone.

The getaway was exactly what all of us needed.  The hotel was wonderful, the time with Daniel was AWESOME, and the grandma time for the kids was priceless.

And then...just as soon as we got back...all eight of us joined our friends Moose and Jessie for hotpot dinner, where my eldest son chewed, gagged, chewed again, and finally swallowed a large slice of boiled intestine.  Way to go, Bright!

Here we are, three generations of women!  Our bellies are full of spicy livers, jiggling esophagus, and crisp, delicious lotus root.  Our hearts, however, are full of gratefulness and love. xoxo

And we have a whole week left to enjoy our precious mothers!  What a gift this time has been.

November 01, 2013

up and running

It's back.  My internet, that is.  And boy have I missed it.

Yesterday my Cambodian-French hairdresser cut off three inches and gave me some bangs.  In addition, my mom and mother-in-law (who just so happen to be VISITING!!!!) paid for highlights.  It feels very nice to have a new look.

The mister likes it.  My mom likes it.  The only person who doesn't like it is Zion, who bawled like a baby when he saw me and said, "I want you back the way you were!"

We've all been having a blast with Grandma and Momo.  I don't know how my mom gets prettier and prettier with each passing year, but she does.  I do miss my dad, but he seems to be fine back in Michigan, cooking all his stinky, spicy food that Mom can't stand, watching ball games on TV, and hanging out with my little brother, bachelor to bachelor. 

Meanwhile, here in East Asia, the kids will dress up and go trick-or-treating tonight.  I made Katelyn's sour cream pound cake, which I plan to ice in the semblance of a pumpkin for the after party at our complex community center.  I can't believe October has already come and gone...