June 27, 2014

1% lovebirds

I've mentioned before that our smack-dab-beside-us, share-the-same-wall neighbors are a family of Californian girls with Russian and Hong Kong descent.

And I've mentioned before that Gene and Emma, their oldest, are great chums. And boy are they ever! Secret code messages, long talks on the trampoline when they are tired of jumping, even the occasional healthy spat. Here they are with Jungle Camp's Chocolate Cake with Buttercream Frosting that they baked two days ago in my kitchen and then went around the apartment complex peddling for 5 kuai a slice.

And then there's Zion and Sasha, their middle child, who are perhaps a little more than chums;) In their words, they are 99% friendbirds and 1% lovebirds. They plan to have a pig farm when they grow up, in which every one of their pigs are pets and none of them ever go to slaughter.

"How will you make money from your pig farm?" I asked them.

"We'll sell the baby pigs to people who want them as pets."

Fair enough.

And tiny Tamara, with her squeaky voice, and shoes always on the wrong feet, has provided Jubilee with a best friend.

The recipes for the cake:

June 26, 2014

June 23, 2014

No. 1 in the nation

I've noticed her skills before, the girl who fashions our subs at our favorite Subway restaurant. Her plastic gloves don't hold her back one bit. Her fingers fly over the compartments of cold cuts and veggies, barely touching them before they are laid perfectly on the perfectly spliced loaf before her. It's like a dance she is doing back there behind the angular plexiglass. It's like dinner and a show.

So it shouldn't have surprised me today to find out that our very own sandwich maker, at our very own frequented franchise, just won Subway's Best Sandwich Maker in The Nation! In the NATION! Do you know how big this nation is? Big. Really dang big.

I'm just so proud.

June 22, 2014

peach season

It is peach season in Northwest Arkansas, Allison tells me.

And that's sweet because it's peach season here, too!

The strawberries became darker and cushier until they disappeared from fruit stands altogether, where they were quickly replaced by cherries. I skipped cherry season. My kids don't eat them, and I'm too spoiled by the Michigan cherries of my youth.

And now the peaches are here. So we drove up the mountain yesterday to pick, pare, and grill peaches until our skin itched from briars and bugs and our clothes were caked with the sweat of the mountain. It surely is peach season once again.

June 21, 2014

Initiation into boyhood, East Asia style

As you know, when a Rupp boy turns 5, a campout is thrown in his honor, at which time his dad, brothers, and friends offer insights into what it means to be a man.

Gene and Zion each had their initiation campouts at the family land in Arkansas. Brave's is happening tonight, here in East Asia, on our rooftop under a city sky. There is a tent, there are sleeping bags. There is a fire (in a mess-hall-sized iron wok) and there are marshmallows roasting on the ends of long, green, bamboo poles.

There is story-telling going on up there. There is wisdom-sharing. I am not allowed up there, of course, except to deliver large glasses of sweet tea to my husband and his friend, John, whose son, Zeb, is the honorary campout guest. When I went up there last, I had to stop just outside the rooftop door and wait until they were finished praying.

Manhood, in all of its stages, is a sweet thing.

June 16, 2014


You would think, since I live in Asia, that I would be a sushi expert.

I'm not. In fact, until Father's Day weekend, I'd not even tried it. I've just always had a thing with eating raw animals. I still remember the first (and only) time I ordered tuna in a restaurant and the inside was warm and raw! I was shocked. I couldn't have taken a bite if someone paid me.

But here in East Asia, my friends Sonya and Anita order sushi all the time, and even my country boy husband eats it, swearing by the salmon. So I finally caved, and while the kids enjoyed their six-inch turkey-and-cheese sub sandwiches, I tried sushi (not purchased at Subway, by the way).

The verdict? One thumb up. On the basis of taste and texture alone (the fish eggs were cool, they popped between my teeth like bubble wrap) I would have given it two thumbs up, but the stomach ache I had later that evening lowered the rating. It could have just been bad sushi, but I don't think so, because my stomach only ached a little. It was as if it was saying to me, "Hey, I think you forgot to cook that stuff."

Will I eat it again? Probably, though I'll always prefer a nice grilled salmon steak with course grain mustard.

June 15, 2014


Kids are a handful!

They mess up our homes, our sleep, and our lives.

But ask any mother and she'll tell you that the most beautiful thing in her home are the finger smudges on her window glass. And parents may sleep less, but the sleep they get is sound and satisfying. And as far as our lives as parents, well, I sometimes wonder if I was truly living at all before the kids came along.

No thank you to quiet, tidy, and egocentric. I'll take a handful of kids any day.

Because it only takes a handful of years for those precious moments to pass. A handful of birthdays later and the youngest two are turning five and the pocket bibs are being wiped out for the last time and put away for the grandkids.

HAPPY 5TH BIRTHDAY, BRAVE! You are a handful of years old now, little buddy.
The bakery ladies on our street were handing out free puddings on Brave's birthday! He thought it was all for him. So cute. (FYI, the pudding looks better than it tastes)

WE LOVE YOU BRAVE, our gentle beast. Our polite powerhouse. Our cautious warrior.
May your life be long and your days full, your ways bold, and your heart brave.

Gratefully yours,
Mama and Daddy

June 06, 2014

rubber bones

Zion ran as fast as he could to the neighborhood swimming pool. He ran so fast and so excitedly, that he fell, catching his weight on his left arm.

The bellow he released was like none I'd heard. I looked at the arm he was coddling and it was turned slightly inward above the wrist.

Great, I thought. Our first broken bone. Should we get it set here in-country? Do we race him to a neighboring country that actually provides plaster casts? Will he spend the whole summer sitting on the edge of the pool watching his friends swim? This is a huge bummer.

But then, the Xray showed not a break, but a bend, called a buckle fracture. Apparently Zion still has his toddler "rubber bones," or "green bones," like the young branches of a healthy tree.

A brace for three weeks and some Motrin for the pain and swelling. That's it! We are very thankful parents today. No trips out of the country for orthopedic care. What a relief.

June 04, 2014

May in pictures

We had some beautiful blue skies last month. Nothing lifts the spirits like yellow sunshine and puffy white clouds.

Gene found an opportunity to play in a soccer club last month. The first of it's kind for him. He was a natural, of course;)

Daniel traveled his fair share in May, which we are all starting to get used to. Jubilee made this "travel buddy" for him to take with him on his trips. Awwww.

We play a game in our family on the road. Whoever sees a yellow car and calls it, wins the game. If someone else spots a yellow car, then that person is the new winner. A pink car, however, trumps them all. Daniel found this pink car on one of his travels and texted us the picture. It was a sweet way to connect over the miles.

Our two youngest are about to turn five. Time flies! Look at this darling little girl. 

Zion lost a front tooth. He lisps like a child movie star now. I can't stop staring at him.

Meanwhile back in the States, my mom's aunt Arlene passed away peacefully at the age of 87. This is a photo of Aunt Arlene marrying my grandpa's brother, Don. That's my grandpa on the far left.

Also back in America, my big brother, Kody, and his fiancee, Carrie, are gearing up for the big day!

The flowers are blooming, the heat waves are crashing, and we are grilling-out on our rooftop garden. Happy Days of summer are rolling in.

June 02, 2014

pop a squat

At our Bradley child birthing class in Lexington back in 2004, our instructor, Deb, tried to teach us to squat. It opens up the birth canal, she said. People in other countries do it all the time, pregnant or not pregnant. They squat to save their backs in the fields, or on the side of the street where there are no benches. It really is a very comfortable way to perch, Deb assured us.

But then we tried it, and seven swollen women nearly toppled to the rug. It just doesn't come natural to those of us raised in the chair-sitting world. I think our pelvises are fuzed at the angles necessary for occupying the seats of our minivans.

But my kids are not being raised in that world. In their world, they squat (Deb would be so proud). They squat at the public toilets. They squat to play with their toys. They squat to look at bugs. And they squat at the checkout while we wait for daddy to finish paying for the groceries.
It looks like I could be C3PO and they could be Ewoks, don't you think? If you have sons, you know what language I am speaking.
A great many of our friends are moving back to the States this summer. It just seems like the fullness of time for a lot of people. But for us, the time has not yet come to return. We don't know when that time will come. We honestly couldn't say. To use a phrase from my high school days, it looks as if we've "popped a squat" here in East Asia;)