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!

Monday, April 20, 2015

April 20, 2013

Mr. Victor had his 2 year old check-up today. He has made it into the 16th percentile for height and 24th percentile for weight. And he even cooperated with the nurse who wanted to weigh him this time. At his 18 month check up he screamed as if we were trying to lay him down on a bed of hot coals. Don't tell Victor but I had even come with an arsenol of goodies including snacks, his favorite water bottle, and even a package of reserved-for-potty-sitting-two-year-olds candy. We didn't need any of it.

Until it was time for the exam. He wasn't having any of it. No more Mr. Nice Guy. He didn't want to sit on my lap. He didn't want any cold round objects on his chest. He didn't want anything sticking in his ears (it took me and a nurse to hold him down for that task). I gave him the water bottle which he proceeded to spit out (a favorite past time of his) and since he didn't have a shirt for it to soak into, it all went onto the floor. Maybe he just thought they needed a clean floor but I doubt it. He was loud. We tried to talk. It wasn't happening. And then it may or may not have been time for a shot. And it may or may not have taken three of us to complete that task.

And then we had to wait to check out. Mr. Victor did not want to be held and he's getting too big (at least he's not heavier than the 24th percentile!) to hold when he's having his fits so I set him down to explore the waiting area. He insisted that the hand sanitizer he felt on the window ledge was a water bottle which sent him into fits because I'm so mean and wouldn't let him have it. He then walked into a child who was sitting in a chair and because he was in Victor's way, Victor did what he always does, he hit. I apologized, told Mr. Victor that we need to be gentle and it was just another child. Victor wasn't interested. The child's mom just stared. Then another family came in and of course the little boy, about Victor's age, ended up in Victor's air space so once again Victor gave him a good ole brush with the hand, getting granola bar (I'm sorry, I was desperate!) all over the boy's shirt. Obviously Victor's not the only child with sensory issues because that child was not having granola bar on his sleeve so I again apologized to another mother and on it went.

We were both very happy to leave that place today. And I cried the whole way home.

So it was refreshing and needed to read these words from Eden today; remembering two years ago when God showed up with an hour to spare, answering the prayers of an 8 year old little girl.

"MY LITTLE BROTHER

when we first started the process of adopting again I was so exited I was going to have another brother or sister! I knew that it would be hard but I also knew that it would be worth it. But it took a very long time to find the right child.

Two years and two moths ago I decided to pray that on april 20th at 5:00 we would know what child was for us. i remember ridding my scooter around the block and praying " april 20th at 5:00 God you know what I'm praying for." I would pray that over and over. I knew that people would think I was crazy. But I also knew that God can do anything if you do believe that He can. so every day I would pray that God would give us a child.

And then when april 20th came around the day went kinda slow. We had a concert after lunch. When we got home my heart raced as I went to see what time it was. It was about two minuets before 4:00. I knew that in almost one hour it would be the time I was praying about for so long. But when mom sat down to check her email my world seemed to stop. it was exactly 4:00 now and when she clicked on the first email she tolled me something that was one of the biggest highlights of my whole life! Mom said "Eden! There are three babies here!"

After that mom said that tow of the babies where due in a few months and that they will probably be very healthy. And then she said the other one was named Noah and she also said that we will probably not even consider because that baby was born early and in the NICU. Mom and dad said yes to the two healthy babies and decided to kinda put aside the other one. A few days went passed and mom got another email saying that the birth mothers of the two healthy babies said no to our family.

The next few days were full of prayer about little Noah in the NICU. after two days mom and dad said yes to little Noah. Mom and dad got on a plane that sunday after church and they went to visit my little brother. a week later dad came home and mom stayed in the NICU with Noah for three whole months. and then she came home with little Victor Noah King.

And now he's a handsome little boy. Two years old and MY LITTLE BROTHER."



I'm so glad that she didn't forget so that we could always remember. Even in the tough times, we remember that this little boy was destined for our family.

We do love you very much, Victor Noah King!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Celebrating 2

Victor got exactly the kind of day he would have requested for his birthday, if he really understood that it was his birthday.

The weather was perfect and he was able to spend almost every waking moment outdoors which makes him very happy. So happy, that at 3:00 this morning he was asking to go outside. He wasn't buying the middle-of-the-night and it's raining excuses either.

During Andrew's birthday in March, Victor figured out that donuts come after singing the Happy Birthday song so for the past month he's randomly requested that we sing that song and at the conclusion he asks, "Donut?" So yesterday he got to enjoy his birthday donut. And what joy there was!



Of course the first thing he requested at breakfast today was another donut. I had saved a half for him, clearly marked "For Victor," but a very hungry brother decided he was more deserving and secretly partook of it yesterday. Oh well, what Victor doesn't know won't hurt him. Not giving a hitting, biting, self-harming child the donut he requested might very well hurt me, though.

We chose a lion cake for him in honor of the growling noises he was so good at before he learned to speak. Eden decided he needed a cake more indicative of his current interests so she made him a second cake.



Of course it reminded me of our first-born's 3rd birthday when he chose this same cake for himself.

And the part we've all been waiting for, Victor's first fi-lin. I refuse to start my children on lessons at this age but with Victor's interest in everyone else's instruments we thought it would be nice for him to start exploring one of his own. So, with supervision, he will do just that.




He started to pluck it immediately and gave us some of his best smiles.

This should be such fun!

Monday, April 13, 2015

He's 2!

Be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
Deuteronomy 6:12

On this day of celebration, we also want to remember the miracles of the last two years.

April 13, 2013 and the birth of a little boy at 25 weeks gestation.

One week later the email that would change our lives, the life of a young woman from Texas, and the life of a micro premie...

"I'm sending a unique situation over.  T had a hispanic baby boy on April 13th. She has named him Noah. He weighed 1lb 13oz and is in the NICU. T has already relinquished but is still in our birth mother housing until she chooses a family. I texted her case worker today for an update on Noah. Last I heard, he was surprising all the nurses & nicknamed the little fighter in the NICU. He is a little famous cutie in there with with an adorable head of dark hair...

I didn't send this out to you earlier knowing out of state families might hesitate... but I thought I would at least try as T is feeling hopeless about a family to be in place for this precious boy...

Just got an update from her caseworker. Spoke with the nurse attending to Noah for this morning shift. Noah is doing well. He is on a pic line and is tolerating food well. He hasn't had many bowel movements. He has been stable in his breathing and blood pressure. Continuing to watch him and let him grow and get bigger."

We said yes and when he was two weeks old we found ourselves in the hospital lobby signing the paperwork that finalized our decision; we would parent this little one, no matter what.

And then we walked into the NICU to meet him for the first time.

Three months later, with cheeks on both ends of that tiny body, we were finally on our way home!

But just a few months later we learned that our Little Fighter, our miracle of miracles, had Optic Nerve Hypoplasia and the pediatric ophthalmologist declared him completely blind.

We mourned what was lost but we also trusted a God who had already done so much in this little life and who so beautifully orchestrated his journey into our family.

At one year old we praised God for the miracle of good health, developmental progress, and rolls of fat!
Either that dollar bill shrank or our 1 year old grew.

And now he's 2!

And a dollar bill tradition continues.

This winter was a bit more trying than his first with sickness after sickness. At the end of this month we have an appointment with a pediatric endocrinologist in Philadelphia to get a second opinion on whether or not Victor has any of the endocrine issues that so many of the children with ONH have to deal with.

We are praising God that in this last year he was discharged from PT after not only learning to walk but to run, hop, climb, and jump as well. He is always moving and prefers to be outside. He loves swings, slides, and trampolines. He is fearless when trying new gross motor activities. He loves water and the pool.


He has a pre-cane to practice orientation and mobility but around the house he is so familiar with his surroundings that he sees no point in using it. He is, however, quite fond of the "Bump and Turn" exercises we do with the pre-cane.

And after he passed those gross motor milestones, the speech just took off and waterbottle was one of his first words. Now he copies everything. Like most of his peers, his favorite word is no although it is usually followed by a very sweet, "No sank oo." He can be most demanding but knows how to turn on the charm. He sings the words to his favorite kiddie songs and knows the Frozen soundtrack as well as his sisters do. He gives himself directives such as No banging, Be careful, and Not in your mouth but he doesn't listen to his own advice. And then he gets mad when we tell him these things.

He loves his family and we love him. He's not as friendly with strangers. In response to their friendly, "Hello," they can usually expect a quick swat by Mr. Victor or at the least, an emphatic, "No," followed by the friendlier "No sank oo" he knows will be requested by someone in his family. He struggles when around his peers, most likely because they aren't narrating the environment and thereby warning him when they are close. All of a sudden there's a little body in his space and he does the thing he does best - hit. The only thing I can say is, we're working on it. Think of what it's like from his perspective and give him time.
Most people know that Victor is blind but what they do not understand is that Optic Nerve Hypoplasia is first and foremost a neurological disorder. Children with this condition can fall on a spectrum from very little effect to developmental delays, not being able to talk or walk. The condition can manifest itself by vision loss, pituitary issues, behavioral problems, developmental delays, seizures, or all of the above and many of these problems can arise at any time; we're not out of the woods. These children are often diagnosed as autistic but for obvious reasons there is much controversy over whether they are truly autistic or whether their behaviors are a combination of neurological difficulties and blindisms (those things that blind people do to stimulate their other senses such as spinning, bobbing their heads, etc.). So far in Victor, the vision loss has been the only diagnosed aspect of ONH that he manifests, however, as mentioned above, we do have some concerns and he will be seen by an endocrinologist with more understanding of this rare condition. He does have major anger and behavioral issues which could be associated with his disorder but which also could be the combination of a 2 year old who is frustrated by lack of vision. Think of the worst toddler tantrum you've ever seen and multiply it by 10. That's Victor. He bangs his head so hard he has made himself cry and given himself numerous black and blue goose eggs across his forehead.

Like many visually impaired children and adults, Victor has trouble staying asleep at night. He used to at least be pleasant during these middle-of-the-night fun fests but more and more frequently they are filled with screamed requests for things that he can't possibly have or do in the middle of the night. We might all (except Victor) be forced to sleep with eye plugs soon.

And as for his vision? We know he can see light. He points out every lamp wherever we go and wants to touch them. He loves toys that light up and puts them right to his face. We are also pretty sure he has some kind of usable vision. Put a bunch of snacks on his tray, and he will likely choose just one. He will reach for something on the floor. Give him another year or two and he should be able to tell us what he can and cannot see.

Yes, Victor Noah King is our miracle baby! This song is for you, Mr. Victor (Glorious Unfolding by Steven Curtis Chapman)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

What if?

I had the privilege of speaking at our church's womens' retreat this weekend. The theme for the weekend was Called and Connected, two topics which I am passionate about. I could say the best part about the retreat was being accidentally introduced as Pastor Cindy. Anyone who knows me would know how hilarious I find that. In actuality, for me, the best part was the variety of ways provided for people to connect with God.

The other speaker and I are complete opposites. She's an extrovert; I'm an introvert. She functions out of passion; I function out of discipline. I need a timeline and rules; she refused to put ending times to our sessions. Sessions weren't just speakers, there was worship and a reading, solos sung over us, and a prophetic painter to watch. And if you aren't an auditory learner and have a difficult time sitting and connecting to a speaker (like me), you could find a table for journeling or an art table (perfect for my artsy daughter).

I ended my last session with this list of What Ifs and was asked to share it so here it is for the other visual learners.

What If?
By Cindy King
(Written based on Scripture, some of my favorite quotes by leaders in church history, and a godtube video on discipling)


What if we were so connected to our First Love that we could see every experience, every circumstance, every step of our journey, as part of a perfect preparation for a future that only God could orchestrate? What if we saw our pasts as the back story necessary for the character development and transformation needed to make us more like the Christ we say we follow?

What if we saw ourselves exactly as God sees us? Not more than we are and certainly not less than He made us to be? Wouldn’t our lives shine with God’s glory? And wouldn’t that give others permission to do the same?

What if we stopped asking God to change others but instead asked Him to change us so that with His spirit flowing through us, others will be changed.

What if God’s people returned to the mission Jesus so beautifully modeled for us, to disciple believers and to care for the least of these?

What if when we heard God asking, “Whom shall I send?” our response was an immediate, “Here am I. Send me”?

What if we truly followed Jesus’ directive to “Go”?

And what if “Go” looked less like Christians flocking into their comfortable, entertaining homes and churches, and more like His people moving out into the world, spreading joy, and hope, and love?

What if we were less concerned about the buildings we live, and work, and worship in and more concerned for the lost? Might it mean less stress, expenses and debt for us as well as meeting the needs of those who have no hope?

What if we kept our treasures where they were meant to be, in Heaven rather than on earth?

Would we also be more free to experience His love and in turn to lead, to liberate, to launch, and to share the love of God?

What if we were less focused on making money but more focused on making disciples and improving the lives of others?

What if we remembered that in Heaven it’s not going to matter what we accumulated here on Earth or even how many good things we did while here, but what will matter is whose life we mirrored, and if we loved like He loved?

What if we remembered that we weren’t called to the healthy or the easy or the sinless but that we were called to care for the sick, the marginalized, the ones who may not respond as we’d hoped, or who might continue to fail again and again?

What if we remembered that Christ was willing to give up His life for us and for every single person we encountered? Would we be more willing to give up our time, energy, money, ego, or reputation?

What if we simply looked at the hurting people around us and loved them?

Like Peter did.
Like Paul did.
Like Mother Teresa did.
Like Corrie ten Boom did.

Like Jesus did.

It won’t be easy, but He commands us to go and He promises it will be worth it.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Guaranteed your kids will hate it

My dad will eat anything.

Well, almost anything.

He's not a fan of yogurt. And he absolutely does NOT like liver.

My mom loves liver.

Every now and then when we were growing up she would decide it was time to indulge herself and we had no choice but to join her.

To her credit, she did try to make it more palatable. She even resorted to little white lies on occasion.

There was the memorable day when I came down from the second floor, and that distinctive liver aroma was already wafting up from the kitchen. With fear and trepidation, I asked my mother what we were having for dinner (if I had known how many times I would be asked that question in my own stint as mother, I never, ever would have put her through that horror, but it would be years because I would  understand). With a smile on her face, she simply said that it was like steak.

Steak? So I had been wrong. It wasn't liver after all. I wasn't much of a fan of steak either but Oh, glorious day, we were NOT having liver!

Until 5:00 came around and she placed that piece of meat in front of me and I just knew; that was NOT steak.

Apparently my mom had tried a new recipe, Guaranteed Your Kids Will Love Liver.

I hope she got her money back.

I've tried to explain to my children that they should be singing my praises because I have never, and I will never, try to serve them that disgusting stuff. But no, they don't believe me. Instead, they have decided that egg casserole is the most disgusting food on earth.

But what's a mom to do with an overabundance of bread crusts in the freezer? Egg casserole, of course.

So today I tried a new recipe, Guaranteed Your Kids Will Hate Egg Casserole, Just Add Veggies and You'll Seal the Deal.

I tried to make it more palatable with the promise of whoopie pies for those who could choke it down without vomiting.

Well, with all these left-over, uneaten whoopie pies, I guess I'll have to have another. Don't mind if I do.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

The requisite resume

There are moments in time when you just have to break one of your steadfast parenting rules. This week brought me to one of those times.

Mariana has had a situation concerning resume writing. As she has understood the assignment, she was to create a resume that would get her a job in the career she plans to pursue. So, knowing from the age of three that she wanted to work in theater, she made a theater resume. It wasn't hard; she just modeled it after the same one that has been handed to director after director in audition after audition, which led to role after role and which had been modeled after actual professional acting resumes.

Understandably, a theater resume looks little like a traditional resume and it's likely her teacher (who has an accounting background) has never had experience with a resume such as this before. Mariana has tried to educate her to no avail. Her teacher told Mariana that she had showed Mariana's resume to two other teachers and someone who works in human resources and they all agreed with her that they had never seen a resume like that, and that she would "never be hired" with that resume. Never mind that she already has been hired with that resume, multiple times, and it has been looked and critiqued by many professionals in the field. The assignment came back with red ink all over it and comments such as "This reminds me of a Playbill. This is not the venue for that."

So I did the only thing I could do. I made a resume for her. If the teacher wants her to "list skills and experiences to a specific job area" she will get a list of skills and experiences to a specific job area. I'm pretty certain this is exactly what she is looking for in a resume.

DANIEL, Babylon …………………………………. 605BC

Child
  • ·      Slave laborer in quarry
  • ·      Mentored in the arts of dream interpretation and handwriting analysis
  • ·      Mentored by lion whisperer


SNOW WHITE, Country Far, Far Away……...........….1750
Dwarf
  • ·      Responsible for care of orphaned princess
  • ·      Mined for jewels
  • ·      Implemented state of the art burial practices for those afflicted by Sleeping Death
  • ·      Designed and built glass coffin trimmed in gold


THE KING AND I, Siam…………………………………..1862
Princess
  • ·      Implemented race transformation with eye liner, spray tan and wig
  • ·      Increased knowledge of climate conditions in O-he-o
  • ·      Playacted in The Small House of Uncle Thomas
  • ·      Learned to waltz


PETER PAN, England…………………………………………….1912
Boy
  • ·      Served as flight instructor
  • ·      Oversaw new home construction as site manager
  • ·      Facilitated treaty with tribe of natives
  • ·      Proficient in Fairy First Aid and curing the ill with a kiss
  • ·      Discovered the secret to living forever


MILLIE, New York, New York……………………………....……1920
Stenographer
  • ·      Developed survival skills and street smarts
  • ·      Assumed flapper lifestyle
  • ·      Increased speed of elevators by fast tap dancing
  • ·      Typed 50 words per minute while tap dancing
  • ·      In depth knowledge of carpet cleaning agents
  • ·      Skilled in kitchen sanitation tasks
  • ·      Investigated white slavery ring, and captured perpetrator who was brought to justice


ANNIE, New York, New York………………………………..………….1933
Orphan
  • ·      Made things shine like the top of the Chrysler building
  • ·      Took down notorious child abuser and 2 felons
  • ·      Discovered the secret to being fully dressed
  • ·      Worked alongside President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s co-creator of the New Deal


HAIRSPRAY, Baltimore, Maryland…………………….......………1962
High School Student
  • ·      Conducted exhaustive search for mysterious bells only heard by large, big-haired, easily excitable teen girl
  • ·      Overcame oppressive, racist and hostile upbringing to integrate Baltimore, Maryland


SEUSSICAL, The Jungle of Nool, Dr. Drake by the Lake.............…1980
Bird
  • ·      Demonstrated that popping pills is bad for your tail
  • ·      Traveled the world in search of rare elephant and missing clover
  • ·      Persevered to win affection of said elephant
  • ·      Implemented strategies for healthy body image
  • ·      Freed captured elephant from a gang of monkeys
  • ·      Using the “You teach him earth and I will teach him sky” philosophy, successfully partnered with an elephant to raise an elephant bird

Credit to AFB for the wonderful resume idea and starter points. This is the one and only time I will ever do my child's homework. Sure was a whole lot more fun than algebra.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Family mission

Once while entering the grocery store, the kids and I were happily surprised to see a friend with his son. They were on their way out so we stopped and chatted for a time. Maybe too long but the kids did a great job of entertaining themselves while the two adults talked about family mission. Yeah, at the grocery store. Who cares about the weather and pleasantries when there are more important things to discuss?

This father, who works in the business world, had a great point. He said, "I've never really thought about the idea of a family mission statement before but why not? As I've heard you talk about family mission I've been reminded that in the business world we're taught that a company without a mission will go nowhere. Of course the same would be true for a family!"

Yes! He got it! Maybe that's the easy part.

It makes sense and we're easily persuaded that a family mission is a necessary part of defining our family's DNA, but actually sitting down, praying about it, and writing out what comes next, well, that's the hard part.

We're busy.

We're distracted.

We feel inadequate.

We [fill in the blank]

But that is exactly why we need a family mission. Referring to it will remind us who we are, where we want our priorities to lie, and why we do what we do. When distractions come or when we know we are too busy or when we don't know where and how to spend our finances, our family mission can tell us what needs to be eliminated or where we need to spend more of our time, money, and focus.

So, how does one write a family mission statement? Generation to Generation by Wayne Rice has an excellent, easy-to-read chapter on writing a mission statement. Unfortunately it's also out of print which means that if you're not local to me, you'll have a hard time borrowing my copy. But honestly, long before Wayne Rice (or anyone else) was writing about family mission, there was the Holy Spirit to help you. Ask and you will receive, right?

But if you want one family's example, here you go:

Way back when there were only 3 children in the King clan and when only one of them could actually read and write, we sat down together in the living room and unrolled a large section or newsprint (remember those huge rolls of creativity-inducing goodness?) across the floor. We gave each child a marker and asked questions like these: What does our family do? What do we do to help others? Why do we do what we do?

The children wrote answers all of the paper. Well, one child wrote the answers. The other two drew pictures while we transcribed their answers. We used the results of that project to come up with the following family mission:


Teach and learn about God
Help and encourage each other
Enjoy activities together

Kindness to everyone
Imitate Christ
Never fight, hurt, or lie
Go where God leads

Family worship and prayer
Always serve God and others
Mom and Dad go on dates.
Immediately obey
Loving words and actions
Young and old are respected


And my favorite part of our family's mission? Mom and Dad go on dates. Because those were Andrew's exact words when he wrote them on the paper. After The Good Doctor and I had a nice chuckle over that, we realized that it was part of our mission since having a strong, everlasting marriage was most definitely part of our family's mission.

See, it doesn't even have to be a paragraph. It doesn't have to use flowy, wordy language. It doesn't need to follow a prescribed form. This one was written for a family with young children, in language they all could understand, and has been prominently displayed since.

Now it's your turn.