December 28, 2017

Rupp Troop Christmas

This Christmas was decorated with Jubilee's 8-year-old ditziness cuteness, Gene's bottomless appetite for independence, Brave's budding comedic skills (the apple didn't fall far from the tree there), and Zion's passion for novel writing.

Examples? Ok. During a family Nerf war, Gene hollered, "Jubi, cover me!" before heading out into the open. She just stood there confused. "COVER ME!" he hollered again. Shrugging, Jubi grabbed a blanket and tossed it over Gene's head.

Zion's love for writing is something else. What did he want for Christmas? An electric typewriter, so he wouldn't have to stare at a screen all day while he wrote (his idea, not mine). The typewriter had to be carefully transported from America by Daddy on one of his trips and then plugged into a voltage transformer so the motor wouldn't blow up in our 220V apartment. Unfortunately it DID blow up, right there in front of all of us on Christmas morning. We forgot to use the transformer in our excitement to try the new typewriter. Oh there were many tears. Mostly mine. But then - and this is one of the reasons we love this country - Daniel took Zion and his now-worthless brand new typewriter to the third floor of the "Digital Plaza" and a very serious little machinist fixed it for a mere 30 kuai! That's around five bucks, in case you're wondering. It was a Christmas miracle.

More glimpses of our Christmas:

We bought our tree from James down at "The Shop."
"The Shop" refers to James's and Wendy's coffee house, a true gathering place for foreigners in our part of the city. For all you Adventures in Odyssey fans, it's like our Whit's End.
I like this one.
I like this one, too. Daniel is always in a good mood at Christmastime, isn't he Aunt KK? You know!
And away we went.

We hosted a few Christmas parties. That's the table cloth from Jubilee's baby shower, given to me by the hostess. It's very to special to me.
The kids were in a small play, written by Gene, and performed by members of their Proverbs Club. Zion was the debonaire narrator.
Everybody said Brave looked a little too much like Daniel in this felt moustache.
Ticket to Ride family game night.
I didn't play because I was too busy making Momo's famous tea cookies for our game night snack. They are a Rupp Christmas tradition.
Jubilee's best friend, Callie Noel, was born on Christmas day ten years ago. Her party is always a fun one!
Daniel finished his course work for his PhD. So very proud of this man. We celebrated with Australian prime rib at Morgan's. Look at the contentment on that face.
Our delivery man came dressed as Santa. I dragged the kids barefoot into the freezing stairwell for a pic:)
Oh how we love Moses!
Our 16th Christmas! The love of my life. (That beard is for you, Clay - he's getting ready for that bear hunt you've promised him)
Christmas morning finally came!
Rupp Van Winkle finally got a man-sized throw under which to take his famous naps. Merry Christmas, Babe!
Jubilee got a special blanket too! 

Things are changing in the Rupp household. Daniel and I no longer have our evenings entirely to ourselves; lamps burn late into the night as tweens pound out homework for their online classes. Jubilee picks out her own clothes now and I must let her, whether I think pink and red go together or not. Daniel and I are learning that Gene can no longer be given directives. We can no longer say, "Get your shoes on we're going to a Christmas party." We need to ask him whether or not he has something planned, or whether he has too much homework, etc.

For years we washed them, dressed them, spoon fed them, and took them everywhere we went, in baby carriers, threatening consequences if they didn't behave. Now suddenly they're standing boldly before us claiming their individuality. They have the right to that, after all. They aren't our pets. Somehow it never occurred to me that my children, long before becoming adults, would start the process of becoming people. XOXO

Merry Christmas from the Rupp Troop (as my parents lovingly call us)

December 14, 2017

A quick breather

This post was written some weeks ago and I'm just now getting around to posting it.

On the wings of joy, love, and adventure the fall has flown by! The week of Thanksgiving was a full week off for us here at Rupp Academy. It gave us a chance to catch our breath a little bit. Tomorrow the machine starts up again, but tonight I sit in my winter robe, while Daniel reads a digital copy of a book by a Chinese philosopher from the 1930s and our cat Moses rests against his leg.

Looking back over our fall I feel many things, chiefly gratitude. We miss our friends and families in America, as always, but overall, there isn't any other life I'd rather live, in any other place, with any other people. I'm so grateful to be able to say that! What a blessing that is.

What a way to live.

Riding the subway with my four little (or not so little) people.
Zion designed and the two of them built this wooden airplane. It took weeks! Zion is VERY particular with details:)
Joseph turned 1. His parents requested a chocolate cake. I played around with the fade. Quite nice I think!

Soccer season came and went. Lots of fun was had by all.

Even I got in on the fun!
Gene is a second-year scout this year so he's the one up-front demonstrating. That backpack doesn't swallow him up like it did last year.
He's tenderfoot rank now, and fast approaching 2nd class!
And Daniel, who wasn't a scout - and wasn't sure what he felt about scouts at first - is now the troop scoutmaster. Really cool.

Daddy quietly turned 38 in the privacy of our home :) 
While his brothers devour fantasy novels, Brave is a Hardy Boys fan. He likes the no-fuss adventure of it. Excessive drama turns him off (he's just like his father in that way).
On a trip to Hong Kong, we found her a street all her own. XOXO
Trick or Treating came and went. So did the candy.
The 500th anniversary of the posting of the 95 Theses on the chapel door at Wittenberg Castle!! We had a party on our roof, watched the movie LUTHER, and studied the Reformation. 

It was a good fall, overall.

November 19, 2017

The Respect Effect

When my eldest son turned twelve - or shortly thereafter - my competency as a mother turned sour. I dare say is curdled.

With my other three kids I still knew what I was doing, but when Eugene and I were in the same room, all 12 years of my parenting experience flew out the window. I didn't even know who he was anymore. It was as if my son had gone and this long-haired attitude in a T-shirt stood in his place.

I missed our times together. Our talks. Our laughter. 

I missed my son.

So I prayed. A lot. And talked to a lot of friends who raised sons. And the Lord led me to read this book, by the same author who wrote Love & Respect (the book that saved many of our parents' marriages).

The respect effect.


Who knew that our sons, like our husbands, need our respect more than they need our love? Who knew that we wound them with our disrespect to the same degree that they wound us when they act unloving? Who knew that our husbands and sons don't respond to their wounds the way we and our daughters do? Who knew that boys and men act unloving when they are wounded, which makes us act disrespectfully toward them, which wounds them, which make them act unloving, which makes... you get the picture.

Who knew? Certainly not me!

Now, I know.

I'm telling you, this book blew my mind. It absolutely restructured the way I relate to all of my sons. Most of all, it gave me back my son Eugene!!! I can't say enough about this book. Mothers of sons of any age, please read this book.

NOTE: All of these pics are taken with food! Haha it made me laugh to realize it. I don't know whether it's because my boys are always eating, or if mealtime is the only time I sit down! Or both! Haha.

ALSO NOTE: In one of the pictures, Zion is seated with his buffet selections - marshmallows, pound cake, Doritos, meatballs, and a coke. There couldn't be a more perfect sampling of a 10-year-old boy's idea of a good meal. Ha!

November 01, 2017

To be understood

Jubilee is adopted. Sometimes that makes her feel special, other times embarrassed, and still other times confused. She wonders, Am I Chinese? Am I American? I tell her she is both! She's Chinese-American! She smiles. She likes that. I go on. You have the rich history of your Chinese ancestry, I tell her, and the bright future of your American citizenship. She likes that too. She leans against me and takes my hand, and I kiss her silky black hair. We sit in contemplative, companionable silence.

The truth is, as hard as I try, I'll not fully understand my daughter. Honestly, how can I? My birth mother packed my lunches with love notes and is, even now, just a phone call away. Jubilee's birth mother will remain a mystery for the rest of her life. My birth father threw me up into his arms when he got home from work, and grilled me a delicious pork chop just last summer. Hers?

Then again, I also don't have parents who chose me in an email. Who raised money to bring me home. Who sent me care packages to my orphanage. Who signed a piece of paper they didn't have to sign - while I sat shivering and crying in their strange arms - promising to love me forever no matter what.

Her story is layered and complex a gourmet dish. My story is greasy-spoon diner-fare in comparison. I will never see life the way she does.

Which is why I'm so glad she's had a string of people in her life with whom she can feel completely understood. I pray she will always have friends like these!

Sweet Xan, who has become something of a big sister to Jubi. Xan was also adopted by a petite blond lady. 
Cutie pie Kai. He had just been adopted in this pic. Jubi and I went to be with my childhood friend Kathy and her husband Nick when they came to adopt Kai last month. Look at the little bond between these two already!
Jubi on Halloween with her friend Lily. Lily's mother and I were talking about these two long before they came into our arms.
Jubi sitting by her friend Maggie at a princess party. Maggie is Xan's little sister.