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, February 8, 2016

Speaking of gerbils

The gerbil-loving gene comes through my side of the family although where I got it is beyond me. It certainly didn't come from either of my parents.

Somehow I got it in my head that I was going to raise gerbils. We talked to the owner of Duffy's Pet Shop and he assured us that he would buy back any baby gerbils we had. We took his word for it and I walked out of the pet shop with a male and a female - Tedi and Hazel.

I think that he did buy back that first litter and I walked out of the pet shop with something like $2/baby gerbil in my pocket.

But by the time I showed up with the next litter, he decided that he didn't need any more gerbils, leaving us with the task of finding gerbil owners ourselves.

This started a pattern whereby sometimes he would buy the gerbil babies and sometimes he wouldn't. But whether or not he was going to buy them, Tedi and Hazel kept playing tag at night and those little pencil erasers kept appearing in the cage meaning that I would have to find friends who could convince their parents that gerbils make great pets.

Thankfully, it all worked out and we somehow sold or placed all of Hazel's offspring. Of course there was that unfortunate time that I sold 2 female gerbils to a friend only to get a frantic call from her mother several months later because one of those females apparently was not and those little wiggly pencil erasers showed up in their cage one morning.

Ummmm, call Mr. Duffy? Maybe he'll buy them from you?

Hazel finally got tired of the whole gerbil baby selling business and started to eat her babies. She must have realized that I had a huge role to play in all of this because she also bit me leaving a scar that is still slightly visible today so that was the end of Cindy's gerbil selling business.

The End.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The reluctant grave digger

There comes a time in the life of every pet when he or she passes from this life to the next. When Fido goes to that great dog park in the sky, or Tigger moves on to the never-ending catnip banquet.

Or when little pet rodents find themselves on the wheel that never squeaks and from whence she will never tire.

Unfortunately, the mortician was a little busy (and a lot reluctant) so Licorice the Gerbil found herself lying in wake for 24 hours but that gave us all time to pay our last respects. Except Andrew and Jesse who didn't feel it necessary to come home to be with the grieving. They should send their condolences soon. (Hint, hint)

The grave digger, who was also the mortician, was extremely reluctant to do this job when there was snow on the ground but I reminded him that his father-in-law had to do the very same thing for the very same kind of animal about 36 years ago so if he didn't want to be given a bad standing next to my father, he should get his butt out there and start digging. Faced with the dreaded comparison to one held in such high esteem, he grabbed his shovel and got to work.

He is henceforth to be known as The Reluctant Grave Digger.

Silly string to celebrate a life well lived.

The pastor, who also moonlights as both reluctant grave digger and mortician, gathered the grieving girls, allowing each to share their favorite memories.

"I liked you because you were the color of my hair," said Hope. And then added, "What? I don't know what to say!" It's okay. We'll give her time. The words can come later. In lieu of flowers, snow thrown on the casket.

The reluctant mortician/grave digger/pastor said a prayer for the deceased and then asked the surrogate mother, "What was her name?" Real sympathetic there, pastor. Smooth move.

A moment of silence.

The Reluctant Grave Digger insisted there be photos as he threw on the last shovelfuls of dirt, mumbling something like, "If I have to be out here freezing my butt off, burying a gerbil, then there better be proof!" But maybe I just thought that's what he said.

And he calls himself a pastor??????

In memory of Licorice King
Formerly known as Jo
July ?, 2010 - Feb. 5, 2016

Licorice (Jo) King, 5, of Girls' Room (formerly Spare Oom), died Friday, February 5, at her home. Ms. King was born in Petco. She was employed by Spinning Wheel Enterprises. She was a member of Things That Scare Victor Post 272 and Gnawers of America. Ms. King was preceded in death by her sister, Cutie Pie (formerly known as Mary). She is survived by her surrogate mother, Eden King of Mechanicsburg and a slew of surrogate aunts and uncles.

Funeral services were held privately on Saturday, February 6, 2016, at the place of her residence. Pastor John King officiated, reluctantly.

Memorial Contributions may be made to the King family We-Really-Want-A-Puppy-But-Mom-Says-We-Need-To-Wait-Til-Victor-Gets-A-Seeing-Eye-Dog-In-13-Years Fund.

Online condolences may be left below.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A pleasant visit

A good friend told me that she listens to various speakers while she is exercising. I thought that this was a great idea except I have no smart phone, only an iPod so that isn't an option for me. I still liked the idea of hearing from speakers who have already challenged me through their writings so I decided that listening to them on the laptop while I sew would be the next best option.

So my sewing afternoons are now filled with the voices of Francis Chan, Graham Cooke, Heidi Baker, Christine Caine, Shane Claiborne, and others.

I may, however, be spending too much time listening to them.

The other night, I had a dream and into my dream walked Christine Caine. Apparently she was speaking somewhere locally and needed a place to stay so she stayed with us. I shared this with my friend and she said that it wouldn't be a terrible thing to spend some time chatting with Christine Caine and she hoped that it was a pleasant experience.

It was, but it was also a bit awkward. Somehow I didn't know she was coming. My best guess is that The Good Doctor volunteered our home during some meeting but forgot to tell me. It happens all the time. Then I have to act all pastor's wifey while trying to slyly throw the mislaid socks under the couch or the dropped Cheerios into the seat cushions. So while I was happily chatting with Christine Caine, I was also playing hostess to my entire extended family because we were also having a family reunion at the same time. I kept having to explain who she was and why she was here.

But other than that, yes, we did have a pleasant visit.

Monday, January 25, 2016


I sat in a meeting a few weeks ago and the woman across from me had a hole in her jeans. It wasn't the kind that came with the jeans, the kind that you pay to find in them. This hole came from wear. The kind that you can patch. (Although I do think some people should patch the ones that come that way from the manufacturer but that just shows my age.) I really wanted to go up to her and ask permission to put a cute patch on her knee.

I restrained myself.

But my children, they don't have a choice.

A hole = A patch.

2 holes = 2 patches.

3 holes = The jeans would be better off in a quilt. Or bib. Or whatever else I find to make.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Snowmageddon 2016

Noon on January 23, 2016:
They aren't going out the front door.

So out the garage it is.

They used walking sticks to get from the front to the back. Should have bought some traditional wood webbed snow shoes. Had we known the PA snow forecast that typically would be a bust would actually end with more snow than forecast.
Hot tub's toasty.
We tried to ease Mr. Sensory Issues into the idea of snow.
One little touch is all we got.

But when his buddy, Isaac, said he was going outside, Mr. Victor insisted on going along. He almost gave up at the hat and gloves but an MandM was a successful bribe.

He's outside! Wanted to be out, didn't like anything getting on his head or face, so they brought him in, and then he had a tantrum because he wanted to go out. Welcome to my world.
But then he did decide to get a little closer to the indoor snow.

The Good Doctor was very thankful that this is the year he got a hand-me-down snow blower. Unfortunately it does mean a little less winter cardio for me. Fortunately, it means less arguing with able-bodied teen-agers to get their butts out the door. And The Good Doctor was so motivated he shared his services with the neighbors.

And upon waking up this morning, more fun! Faces on cars, forts, slides, and sledding. Forced family togetherness is a good thing. Two days (so far) of working together, eating together, playing games together, and getting spa treatments together.

Doesn't get much better than this!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

To my child who is dealing with disappointment

To My Child Who is Dealing with Disappointment,

I'm sorry.

I'm sorry that circumstances are not going as you had planned. I'm sorry that hard work and goal-setting are not producing the outcome you had intended. I'm sorry life looks wide-open and out-of-control and downright frightening. I'm sorry you're dealing with this crisis of doubt.

I know that many parents of this generation would swoop in and do everything in their power, even things not in their power, to take the pain away, to "fix" it, or to bring the favorable outcome you desire. But you know that's not who I am. I'm not going to do that. And I know you would agree that doing so is not really what you want from me.

I could tell you I'm sending positive thoughts your way but you know how I feel about that. If I have to tell you I'm sending you positive thoughts, that must mean that I usually send negative thoughts, which is really a very scary thing to think about. Besides, my self-esteem isn't great enough to believe that my thoughts have the power to do a thing for your situation. Or anyone's, for that matter.

I could tell you that it's going to be okay but that's just platitudes. I could remind you that God's in control, that His plans are best, and all you need to do is trust. But I won't. Not because it isn't true but because that, also, would sound cliche right now.  And because there comes a time when you need to do more than hear it from me; you need to claim it for yourself.

I think that time has come.

So here's what I am going to do, what I have been doing since you told me that your dreams have been crushed, that it looks like you plan is not coming to fruition, and that others you know are getting what you wanted. You didn't use that many words. You didn't need to. Your words, and more importantly, your body language, said much more. You are, after all, an actor. Only you weren't acting. My heart hurt for you and there was nothing I could say in that moment. Nothing that you wanted me to say. So I prayed. But I didn't pray that God would wrap this all up quickly and easily. I wanted to do that. But more than wanting you to be happy, I wanted you to be joyful. Joy doesn't come from circumstances, not even from getting-everything-you-want, smooth-sailing circumstances. Joy comes through the rough parts of life. Things like prison and whippings and ship wrecks. If Paul could be joyful through all of that, then I can pray that my children find joy in the disappointments of their lives which will most likely not come anywhere close to Paul's experiences. And so this is how I prayed, and continue to pray.

I prayed that you would take your burdens to God. Not to me, not to Dad, not to your most special friends, but to God. There's time to take them to the people He has placed in your life, but you need to know that we won't always be here, and that we can fail you in our responses and actions, and that there is only one place you can take your burdens and find them truly lifted. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened. (Matt. 11:28) Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7) And what is the second part of the Matthew passage? Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. No one else you choose to turn to can give you rest; can set your mind at ease. No one.

I prayed that you would trust Him; trust His plans and ways. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord.  (Isaiah 55:8)  In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. (Proverbs 16:9) Planning is good, working hard is necessary, but ultimately we need to understand that our eyes are finite but that we can trust God's sovereign orchestration of every detail of our lives.

I prayed that you would believe that God has your best interests in mind.  "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jer. 29:11) When you think of God orchestrating your life, I want you to see Him as a being who is good and has the very best future planned for you even if it looks entirely different from all that you planned. That in actuality, His plans are going to be so much more than you could have asked or imagined. That's something that I can't give you but you have to find it and claim it for your own. It doesn't come from watching your own plans succeed, but from trusting His ways. May you see the blessings He has for you, even when they are not what you hoped they'd be.

I prayed that you would have hope in the waiting. We all have to wait for unfulfilled dreams or unanswered questions. What you do with that waiting will tell a lot about who you are and in what you trust. Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God. (Ps. 42: 11) We want to do something when forced to wait, to fix it, to speed things up. But the goal is to learn to use the waiting period to focus solely on God. Doing so will get our minds off the problem, keep us from trying to fix something that probably doesn't need fixed (at least not in our own strength), and will make use teachable. I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. (Ps. 40:1)

I prayed that you would know you can take your tears, your anger, your disappointment, all of it, and give it to God. You can lament. David, known as the one after God's own heart, wrote out lament after lament. God is good. Tell Him everything; the good, the bad, and the ugly. It won't change how He feels about you. He already sees you as worthy; always has and always will.  It's good to take it all to His feet and leave it there. He can handle it.

I prayed that your eyes would see the miraculous. Miracles don't come if we don't need them and we certainly don't need them when we have everything so nicely arranged and details are falling into place. Miracles come when we are in a place of need, are willing to step aside and let Jesus come into the situation, and willing to let Him move as He desires. Prepare yourself to see magnificent things!

I prayed that in this place, of seeing your dreams and hopes seemingly crashing down, you would see them for what they truly are - your hopes and dreams - and that you would be willing to give up Self for God.  He must become greater; I must become less. (John 3:30) We need to put aside our strivings and plans and allow Him to rule and direct our paths. We can't do that when we are in control, calling the shots, and trying to tell Him what we need. We need to see ourselves for who we truly are, not less (definitely not less!) but certainly not more. He is Lord. We are not. Period.

I prayed that your character would grow through this experience. You've probably had more successes in life so far than most people get in a lifetime. Through it all, you've maintained a humility and character that are exemplary. But there's always room for growth. This is that time. We always have a choice to make in times of frustration and disappointment; we can grow bitter and allow anger to fester in our hearts, or we can grow into character that is more and more Christ-like. That is what I pray for you. If you can do that, you will be a force to be reckoned with and in a place to be used by God.

Most importantly, I pray that in the end God will be glorified - in your life and in this situation.

And as I prayed for you that first night, this is what I saw:

I saw Jesus standing in front of you, facing you, holding a map. He was holding the map so that you couldn't see what was on it. I could see enough of it to see that He had a path marked out for you. I couldn't see the specifics of where it went or it's final destination. I could see twists and turns and at the end, a big, red X. It was like a treasure map and your destination is the treasure!

And then I saw His face. He was smiling. No, smirking. The same look He always gives me when I have worried and stressed about something, finding in the end that not only did He have everything under control, not only did it all work out, but He added something miraculous and unexpected, just for me. A wonderful surprise just for good measure. It's the look we give to someone when we've just planned the most incredible and amazing surprise we could come up with - just because we love them. The other person is in awe and in shock that we could have pulled that off. We look at them, and smile with that silly smirk which says, "Of course I did. Why do you look so confused? Didn't you know that I love you that much?"

So, until He reveals what is under that big red X, I will continue to pray these prayers for you.

God is good.
All the time.
All the time.
God is good.

Love, Mom

Friday, January 22, 2016


We made cookies last night and as I was leaving to pick up Shoun from swimming, I asked Eden to please take one to Isaac and then to put the rest on a plate to take into her school for the teachers' luncheon the next day.

Only she heard, "Please put a cookie on a plate and take it to Isaac."

He must have felt quite special to get a cookie on a silver platter. Or styrofoam plate. Same thing, right?

I was a little perturbed to come home to find that the cookies were still on the tray and the plate was gone.

But then I had to smile to think of Isaac enjoying his cookie on a plate. He must have felt like a king.

Maybe it was an early birthday gift.

The child we thought was going to be a girl, so much so that I made the doctor check again when he announced that it was a boy. (True story) That second glance confirmed that this was definitely not Eliza Cynthia.

It took a few hours because The Good Doctor and I have never been good at agreeing on a boy's name. And this time I was insisting that the child be named for me since, I argued, I had been doing all the work of growing and delivering these children but everyone else was getting the credit in the naming process. Starting with Andrew John (for guess who?), then to Jesse Glenn (for my dad, Glenn), and the name that had been waiting through the two boys, Mariana Christine (for her grandmothers, Mary Ann and Christine). But how to make Cindy work for a boy? It wasn't easy and I almost gave up allowing Isaac Christian (named after multiple grandfathers and great-grandfathers and plenty of others far back in all branches of the family tree) until we realized his initials would be ICK. Not exactly a heritage we wanted to wish upon this new little one. Finally, we had it...

We would take my middle name, Joy, change the o to an a (Kind of like changing the y to i and adding es. Only different) and call him Isaac Jay. Remembering that my uncle had the same middle name, solidified the deal. This was the uncle who spent so much time with me when I was little, taking me to amusement parks, letting me make fun of him throwing up even on the mildest rides, and encouraging me through some rough patches of growing up. It felt right.

Isaac Jay King (who thankfully outgrew the nickname Isaac Jaybird King after giving up that toddler   habit of, well, you can guess what that might have been) he was and is.

Not everyone can say their initials arrive in succession in the alphabet. It made learning the alphabet enjoyable as we changed the song to A B C D E F G H Isaac Jay King L M N O P ...

Isaac, our "laughter" and Jay, "to rejoice". Our happy-go-lucky child. The one who finds more reasons to rejoice in life than to be down.

Our baby born with a twinkle in his eye
(until they corrected that blocked tear duct a few years later).

Our teddy bear.

Our musician. (And that's saying a lot in a family of musicians.)

Victor's Buddy.

We hope you have a great day, Isaac Jay! Maybe we'll serve your donut on a silver platter, just for old time's sake.