Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child. Have fun!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Alternate Tooth Fairy

The Tooth Fairy doesn't come to our house anymore. It just got to be too expensive. Not only are there eight mouths with the usual amount of teeth falling out, but some of them inherited their father's lack of adult teeth, some of them inherited their mother's overcrowded mouth, and some of them have their own unique issues. These kids don't always lose one tooth at a time and often it takes a little help from our friend the oral surgeon. His secretaries know us by name and though he looks like Santa Claus, well, let's just say the only gifts he gives are little cups with ugly teeth, root and all. Our family record, to date, is eight pulled at once.

Let me digress for a moment to tell a story which you are going to be so thankful not to have missed. So far, only one King child has had his wisdom teeth removed. Another is in the line-up and the other very fortunately is missing 3 of the 4 wisdom teeth. Blessings come in many varieties. When this particular child arrived home wisdom-less, he also had a Disney sticker on his arm. I thought this odd but didn't bother to ask the already-sleeping teenager.  Later, when taking the sticker off his arm, and losing several arm hairs in the process, he blurted, "Why would some idiot nurse put a sticker on my arm?" His father started laughing hysterically and said, "You asked for that sticker!" The teenager in pain questioned,"Well, I think I remember asking for a sticker just to be funny, but why did she put it on my arm?" Again, hysterics, "You told her you wanted it on your arm. You don't remember that?" Nope. No memory. So I guess the real question should be, "What idiot teenager would ask for a Disney sticker on his arm?"

Well, as you can guess, that Tooth Fairy just got a little tired of coming to the King residence. Too many times she completely missed our house while making her rounds. Not just the night the tooth (or teeth) came out, but several nights in a row. You'd think she would be better at this job after generations and generations.

To solve this problem, she just came by one day and dropped off a jar of coins and commissioned us to hand out a dollar each time a tooth falls from a mouth. Only problem, we would forget. So now when a tooth falls out, we just say, "Wonderful! Don't forget to get yourself a dollar out of the jar."  It does lose a little of its luster this way but if a child gets her money, it doesn't really matter how she gets it, right? Under the pillow or out of a jar, it's all the same in the end.

But somehow, our children have found an Alternate Tooth Fairy. This one seems to have kept up with inflation better than the usual one. So by using snail mail, or the internet, or even saving the tooth hanging by a thread and pulling it out when visiting the Alternate Tooth Fairy, the children can do much better than getting their own dollar out of a jar. And if they time it right, with a visit from the Alternate Tooth Fairy, the money may even show up under the pillow after all.

Tonight, this picture was sent to the Alternate Tooth Fairy

and a few hours later, we received this photo and accompanying message:

Show Hope what her tooth turned into.  We will get her the $5 the next time we see her.

We didn't even know the Alternate Tooth Fairy had Photoshop. Or does she? Or is it a he?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The grace seat

Does anyone know the statute of limitations on a child-imposed gag order?

Me neither. But I'm pretty sure it has run out. If not, just don't tell those involved and no one will get hurt.

In the spring, The Good Doctor and I attended an adoption summit. We split up during the break-out sessions so we could get more bang for our buck. I attended a session on loving your hard-to-love child. The speaker was excellent as was the topic. At the end of the session she held a question and answer time. Since she has a large household with many personalities and issues resulting from kids from hard places, one of the questions that came up was about handling sibling conflicts. I took copious notes as she answered, knowing that this was going to be a great idea to try out at home.

It didn't take long before I had my chance. I stalled the two offenders just long enough to grab my notebook for a hidden refresher course.  And then we began...

First, I sent the two children (for simplicity's sake, let's just call them Child A and Child B) to the grace seat. In your home, it may be called a love seat, or even a sofa, but thanks to this wonderful speaker, we now have a grace seat.

Next, I gave Child A and Child B a list of questions that they were to discuss together while on the grace seat and told them to let me know when they were ready to discuss.  The list of questions, again thanks to the speaker (or at least to the best of my note-taking abilities), were as follows:

1. What happened?
2. How did you feel?
3. What was your part?
4. What do you need to apologize for?
5. What would you do differently next time?

Lo, and behold, it worked. They discussed together, they called me when ready, the three of us had a delightfully eye-opening conversation, and we were ready to continue our day...

...when Child A blurted out, "You can't tell your parenting class about this."

Child B added, "Or Facebook."

And the final blow from Child A, "And not on your blog, either."

But like I said, I'm pretty sure the statute of limitations has run out.

*With thanks to Susan Hillis for this most excellent idea.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Clean genes

When I was growing up, we didn't worry so much about killing trees and catalogs came in the mail a-plenty. My favorite catalog, by far, was the Lillian Vernon catalog. I guess it was the variety that kept my interest. A quick google search found that Lillian is still going strong; she kept up with the times and went online.

One day, when looking through my mom's newest catalog, I saw a cookbook with 101 ways to cook zucchini. Not wanting to find those little green specks in anything else my mother cooked, I found myself a black marker and carefully placed a nice big X over that product and in my best typewriter looking handwriting wrote, "Out of Stock."

One day, another item caught my eye. It was a little soap squisher, invented so that you never again had to waste that tiny little end of the soap. My mom, being the thrifty mom that she was, always saved the ends of the soap. I don't know if she had a plan for them or not. Maybe she was hoping that someday someone would get the hint and buy her that soap squisher from Lillian Vernon so she could maker herself a nice round "bar" of soap ends.

Being thrifty myself, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Who needed to buy a soap squisher when you could just melt the soap down, put it into some type of mold and make a new bar of soap? Yes, I know that soap doesn't melt - now - but not when I was a wee little thing. So one day when we were left home alone, I convinced my brother to help me melt those little soap ends.

It didn't work. The house smelled like burning soap which smells nothing like Dove or Ivory or any other soap bar for that matter. Despite opening all the windows in the house, it still smelled when my parents got home so the secret was out. And there was no longer any need to buy the soap squisher from Lillian Vernon because my mom no longer saved her soap ends.

Fast forward about 35+ years and I've discovered that there must be a clean gene or a soap gene and even though all of my biological children look decidedly like Kings, they have inherited more than bad eyesight and overcrowded mouths from me; at least one of my children has inherited that fascination with soap. And the flawed thought processes when it comes to creating with the substance.

Last week a friend taught a lesson in hygiene to her children and my youngest family members as well. The lesson culminated in the making of soap, using a kit (no soap squishers here). After they had left, we discovered that one of the bowls that had contained melted soap maker (don't worry - this kind was supposed to be melted), still had some soap residue. One ingenious child, the one who inherited the soap gene from me, took it upon herself to remelt this soap stuff. That would have been fine except she also decided that it needed some coloring. Since our friend had taken the rest of her kit home, including the soap-approved colors, my child decided to use food coloring.

Yes, soap made out of food coloring. The stuff that discolors hands and kitchen counters and everything else it touches.

Thankfully I found the soap before it was used on any bodies. We can all breath a sigh of relief.

I can't wait to see if this child's future children also inherit the clean gene!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The creative inventor

Our last family night was all about inventing. Two children were involved in the planning of this party with each child clearly showing their own strengths. Shoun was in charge of the food theme and Eden - everything else. Together they decided on macaroni and cheese. Shoun googled "creative macaroni and cheese." He settled upon Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese. This idea was nixed by him and he didn't admit until it was too late that it was because he didn't know how to make pulled pork. Silly boy, if you know how to google the idea in the first place, maybe google can tell you how to make pulled pork.

No problem, though, because his partner is the master of creativity and ideas. She took over from here. Since they decided upon inventions as their theme, she decided that each family member could invent his or her own macaroni and cheese. Having a concert that day, I helped her with most of the work ahead of time so that we could start as soon as we came home from the 4PM concert.

We put the macaroni and cheese in the crockpot. She also cubed ham, baked the bacon ahead of time and crumbled it, cooked and cut hot dogs, cut scallions, crushed chips (regular, Bar-B-Q and Doritos for good measure), made sure we had extra cheese, salsa, hot sauce, and ketchup. There weren't any options in the way of vegetables but you have to take the inventor of the meal into consideration; Eden is my pickiest eater. We did add some left-over cooked broccoli at the last minute.

In between dinner and dessert she paired up the family members and gave them a quiz that she had prepared. They were given a time limit to look up the answer on the internet. Questions like, Who invented the toilet? For what purpose was bubble wrap originally invented? When were Crayola Crayons invented? She made this quiz all on her own as well as the prizes.

Dessert was, of course, Invent Your Own Ice Cream Sundae.

And her movie of choice was Meet the Robinsons.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Back to the future

Because I grew up on Back to the Future, I'm well-versed in what it means when your family starts to fade. I haven't, however, been able to figure out which of my children was involved in time travel and was signifacantly altering our family's configuration.

But no fears, all is now well.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Like winning the lottery

I just love these emails.

Good day.

Hello, My name is Ms. Prisca Ark, I hope this email will not bother you? I'm from Canada, a dying widow suffering from cancer leukemia and has decided to donate some of my wealth to a reliable individual or cooperate Organization that will use my finance in the amount of $7,200,000.00 Million for charity work because i don't have any child to inherit the fund when am no more alive, So if you are also interested and willing to accept this offer and do exactly as I will instruct, kindly reply back to me for more explanations

Prisca Ark.

Such exotic names, especially those Canadian ones like Prisca Ark. Do you think it's more French Canadian or from the coast? Such concern for my well-being, so thoughtfully asking if I am bothered by this email. And poor souls, always doing their best with the English language.  How terribly difficult it must to write in English for Canadians, living so far from English language speakers as they are.

I got so excited when this came into my inbox today. I just had to forward it to The Good Doctor immediately and ask him if this might be God's answer to my prayer for funds for our next adoption. Seriously, now, just look at all those zeros.

Oh, pick your jaw up off the floor. I'm not that crazy.

I know very well that Canadians don't really say, "Kindly reply back to me for more explanations."

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The poor orphaned vole

Once upon a time there was a vole in my laundry room. Alas, it was unable to tell us its tale so we may never know exactly how or why it ended up in my laundry room. But let me surmise...

The vole, poor little soul, was an orphan. Hearing that the Mrs. of that barn-looking house on the curve had a soft spot for orphans, he decided to give it a try. One day when the garage door was open, he made a run for it and made it. Hours later the big garage door slid down and shut and he realized that the first step had been accomplished. A day or two later, he noticed a child enter the garage from the next room. It appeared to be a small room, a laundry room possibly. To his great delight, that child neglected to shut the door into that room. Under cover of darkness, and with an entrance so easily provided to him, he entered the room which did, indeed turn out to be a laundry room. He enjoyed the warmth of this room for a few days while figuring out how to get up the few steps into the next room of the house. Suddenly, the door at the top of those steps opened and a young but beautiful girl dumped a whole load of laundry onto the floor of the laundry room. He hid behind the washer just in time but  realized that if he didn't make it into the next room by nightfall, the bottom of this pile would make for a cozy place to sleep the night away. Unfortunately, for him, the members of this household do not seem to notice a pile of laundry on the floor and tend to step right on the pile as they go back and forth through the laundry room.

As I mentioned earlier, all points in that last paragraph are but conjecture since the poor vole is decidedly deceased and unable to give us an accurate account. I, however, happened upon the scene at this point and can provide all sorts of sordid details.

Saturday morning, laundry day, I was up bright and early to start on this awesome task. Two washers were complete and the clothes were ready to be taken outside. I was working on getting that third load into the washer when my handful of clothes actually found that I had reached the bottom of the pile. I could see floor! But then I spotted a brown mass of something. Knowing that my children like to collect everything in the room along with the laundry (this is clearly much easier than separating trash from toys from doll clothes from actual laundry), dump it on the floor of the laundry room (rather than in the baskets provided although admittedly, they are often overflowing even when used), and let me sort through it all, my immediate thought was that it was something that I needed to deposit in the trash. I bent down to pick it up and thought,

Are those legs?

No, can't be legs. I bent down again.

Is that a tail?

Definitely a tail.

No, can't be a tail.

Isaaaaaaaaaaaaacccccccc, can you come here a minute, please? What does that look like to you? Would you concur that it was once a living thing?

He concurred. I turned off the light, shut the door, and halted my laundry endeavors for the time being.

The Good Doctor disposed of the poor orphaned creature when he came home.

If only the vole had just shown up at the door and asked for a home instead of sneaking in.

Moral of the story: God gave you a mouth, use it.

Alternate moral of the story: Never step on a pile of dirty laundry.