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!

Friday, February 27, 2015

If you can't lick 'em...

There are several mysteries of life that I will never understand.

At what age does one transition from doing everything possible to avoid a nap or bedtime, to craving sleep?

Where do all of our missing socks go?

If it is a 50/50 chance that a child will get the shoes on the right feet, why are the shoes on the wrong feet 90% of the time?

If moms and dads have never bitten someone to solve a problem, yet children learn by modeling, why do so many children go through a biting stage?

And finally, what is so bad about the end pieces in a loaf of bread?

This one had me stumped and quite frankly, finding a solution has surely taken years off my life.

We went through the phase when no one wanted to eat the ends of the bread. It would not be unusual to find 6 bags of bread in the drawer, each with only 1 or 2 pieces of bread. Yes, the dreaded crusts.

Discussing the wastefulness of this situation did help and the older children in the home stepped up their game, sucked it up, took one for the team, and chose to help me out of my home economics funk. If they opened the drawer to find that they had lost the load ends lottery, they would take their turn and eat that slice of bread.

But there were still a few children who so vehemently hated those ends that they wanted to claim a food allergy.

Good try. Gluten free bread has ends, too.

So I put on my detective hat and did some sleuthing.

Because of the different times that children wake up in the morning and because some children make lunches and some buy lunches and others eat at home, the proof just fell right into my proverbial lap.

But then I learned something else. Not only do I have one child who despises the crusts of the bread, this child abhors the crusts of bread. This child is so repelled by even the thought of having to eat the crust of the bread that this child will not leave the crust in the bag for the next person but will throw the remaining few pieces in the trash so that this person will not even have the chance of getting stuck with that crust the following day, either.

In case you had any doubts, the King family is not rolling in the dough (get it?) and clearly this child's solution, while making sense in this child's brain, was not nor will ever be an adult-sanctioned solution. But since this child decided not to take responsibility for the throwing out of the bread, and since this child's adherence to the "Please Take Your Turn and Eat the End If It Is the Next in Line" rule was determinably an impossibility, it was time for a totally brand-new tactic.

The plan just came to me one day. You know, if you can't lick 'em, join 'em. Well, I wasn't about to start throwing away perfectly good food (brown potato chips, green Skittles, the non-marshmallow parts of Lucky Charms, or even the crusts of bread) so instead I decided to remove it. Don't make them eat it. Just give them end-free loaves of bread.

I bet you noticed that my kids were happier these past few weeks, right? Especially the child who finds turn-taking with loaf ends to be entirely intolerable. Because no one had to eat the ends. Everyone was entitled to the same end-free slices of bread. Everyday. For weeks. And the best part? No one noticed! They were all just so happy to be crustless. Although, if my mom's childhood mantra is right, they are losing out on future chest hair. But that's neither here nor there so forget it.

Now, for all you who are wondering how I could possibly bring myself to waste those ends, you obviously don't know me very well. I am the one who rewashes plasticware and cups. I am the one who makes my children use both sides of the index card before throwing it away. I am the one who washes baggies and reuses them (except when The Good Doctor throws them away when I'm not looking). So each and every end piece went into an old bread bag (get it, not even wasting a new baggie!) and into the freezer. When the bread bag was full, we had French Toast.

And I waited. I didn't have to wait long. A few minutes into the meal someone commented on having the end piece.

"Funny you should mention that. Look around you. You'll notice that everyone has an end piece. And every piece remaining on the serving dish is a crust.

(At this point all forks were frozen midway between table and mouth. Chewing was slow and deliberate and all eyes were on me.)

Let me tell you a little story..."

And the best part? The child who used to throw the crusts away and then lie about it? Almost gave it away and spilled the truth in an attempt to justify the action. The mouth opened. The mouth closed. The face grimaced. The mouth opened again. A few unintelligible sounds came out. The mouth closed. Because at the last second, said child realized that an opening of the mouth at this time would not only be an admission of truth to the parental figures but would also reveal the identify of the person who caused this meal of crust-only French Toast.

Looks like we'll be having French Toast, grilled cheese, and egg casserole every few weeks around here from now on....






Tuesday, February 24, 2015

If you give a boy a spoon

If you give a boy a spoon, and make a big deal out of teaching him to sccooooooooop so that he can self-feed, then you could have one of a number of results...

You could find yogurt on the ceiling in a bubble gum looking blob which said child has thrown in a fit of you-can't-make-me-eat-that-with-a-spoon rage.

You could watch said child bang his head repeatedly against the back of his high chair in another variation of the you-can't-make-me-eat-that-with-a-spoon rage.

You could get weary of the outbursts and just pick up that spoon yourself, announce "sccoooooooooooop" loudly to whoever will listen (likely not the child who is supposed to be feeding himself) and just stick the spoon in his mouth yourself.

OR

It could be a really good day and you could watch said child as he moves in close to observe the dog eating breakfast, then go over to the kitchen utensils drawer (one of said child's favorite "toy boxes"), pull out a big serving spoon, return to the dog's dish and loudly announce "sccoooooooooop" as he very happily does just that with the dog's food.



OR

It could be a very interesting day and while said child was helping with the dishes, he might just pick up the bottle brush and "sccooooooooooooop" the water.



Ya just never know.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Using words

A pregnant woman posted on Facebook this morning that she has reached the point "where sleep feels like a statistical impossibility." While I very much remember those days and can empathize, my current state almost led me to follow that with the comment, "I have reached that point in parenting where sleep feels like a statistical impossibility." I didn't. I decided it would be better not to remind her that sleep will be statistically impossible for quite some time after baby as well.

To be fair, my thought came after another night up with a toddler. A toddler who should be able to sleep through the night. A toddler who used to sleep through the night. But a toddler who is blind tends to have sleep issues and will likely struggle for the rest of his life. And maybe someday he will be able to nocturnally entertain himself when he wakes up. Maybe someday we will be able to use a supplement or natural or medicinal method of helping him to stay asleep. Someday. But for now, he beckons, we come.

I've decided, however, that it would be a whole lot nicer to be awakened in the middle of the night to a sweet voice calling, "Mommy, please come,"instead of a loud, "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa." And because we're working on using words instead of head banging, hitting, and screams, the middle of the night is just as good a time to work on this as any other. Mr. Victor has built quite a vocabulary these days so why not try? And when I picked him up from the church nursery last week, I did receive the surprise of my life when one of the workers said to me, "Wow! He is really verbal!" I guess I honestly never considered that my son might stand out at anything. So anyway, midnight lessons should be just as good as the daytime variety, right?

I didn't get my chance at 2AM when Mr. Victor first paged. The Good Doctor had decided upon retiring for the night that he would gladly get up with Victor. And true to his word, he did get up for that first call. But after all that work trying to wake up The Good Doctor, I, too, was wide awake. So at 3:30 when a still-awake Victor decided that he again needed some adult company, it only made sense for me to go rather than that whole wake-the-doctor routine.

I stood at the door and asked politely, "Victor, please do not scream. Can you call for Mommy? Can you say, "Mommy, please come"?

I very tiny and very polite, "Mommy, please come," followed my request.

"That was very good, Victor, but when I am sleeping in my room, I will not be able to hear that. Can you please say it louder? You can to call, "Mommy, please come!"

This time he met my expectations so I entered the room, "Yay! Good calling, Mr. Victor. When you call, Mommy comes. What do you want?" (Note that this last question was not out of ignorance but again, a lesson in using words to make your wants known, no matter the time of day.) While waiting for him to answer, I checked for the usual first request.

Paci? Check. Good.

"Brrrrrrr."

"Oh, good using words, Victor. You're cold? Do you want covers? Okay, I will fix your covers."

Before I was finished with that task, the next request came, "Mu-ic?" Again, no surprises, just practice in using words.

"You want music? Good using words! Yes, I will turn on your mu - "

"Bacon?"

"Um..... very good using words, Victor, but no, I am not going to get you bacon in the middle of the night."

"Bacon?"

"Yes, like I said, very good using words, and thank you for asking so nicely but no, I am not getting you bacon. I'm going to pray and then I'm going to leave."

Dear Jesus, Thank you that Mr. Victor is using words. Please help Victor and Mommy to go back to sleep now. And please help Victor to forget that he requested bacon. Amen.




Thursday, February 12, 2015

Victor's turn

Mom's last blog post was less than flattering toward me, making me sound like such a criminal, so I would like the chance to redeem myself.

I have to tell you, self-feeding is really not all it's cracked up to be. While it can be fun, it does take a lot of time and energy. If I had my way, I'd just let someone feed me forever. But you see, I have this OT who thinks I really, really, really need to learn to use a spoon. And Mom has taken her side.

I refused and refused and refused.

But one day my OT got a brilliant idea and she brought out the ice cream. In the middle of the day. And it wasn't even a Wednesday or Sunday, the only days that Mom says we can have ice cream.

They put that bowl of ice cream in front of me but refused to take the spoon from the bowl and put it into my mouth for me. They made me do it.

I wasn't happy. I screamed. I hit. But what was I supposed to do?  It was ice cream for goodness' sake!

So as you know from Mom's story, I'm still not a fan of self-feeding with a spoon.

Although, on the other hand, I have discovered a very interesting phenomenon and that is that after I use a spoon, I get a bath. It doesn't matter if I already got one that morning or the day before. Apparently using the spoon means that I get to do one of my favorite things.

This gig might not be so bad after all.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

CSI: At Home

Case 020515 - The Case of the Gum on the Ceiling

I was the first to notice it. An unmistakable pink patch right at the edge of the dining room, almost to the kitchen. Not quite round but clearly carefully spread out with a set of guilty fingers.

As each child entered the room and looked up, they confirmed what I was seeing. Gum. Plastered to the ceiling with a shocking deliberateness. Who? Why? How?

I had children stand on chairs to prove that they could or could not reach the ceiling, with or without help.

I asked children if they had any gum stashed away anywhere. I asked kids if they had been given gum by any strangers today.

I asked if anyone had seen a masked intruder run into the house at any time today, take his gum from his mouth, smear it on my ceiling, and leave without a trace (except for the tell-tale gum).

I asked if anyone had let Nana Bush, our beloved neighbor, into the house today so that she could dispose of her gum on our ceiling rather than in her own trash can. Well, she does keep a meticulous house and yard; it's not beyond the realm of possibilities that she would not want to soil it with Already Been Chewed Gum.

But alas, no one had seen anything.

So then I had to go down the list of suspects.  Victor was the first to be ruled out. Too young. Andrew was also declared not guilty. Too far away. Hope was cleared when she failed the standing on the chair test. Too short. Jesse and Ana were not home at the time of the first sighting so it couldn't be them. That left three suspects: Shoun, Isaac, and Eden.

Each was interrogated separately and each claimed their innocence. Although Shoun did give us a possible motive when he came home from school asking if I had any pine trees hidden away in the backyard because he needed pine tar for his hands so he could cheat at the up-coming Battleball Tournament. Um, no. But a child who wanted pine tar could very easily be testing out the stickiness of gum. Or so I thought. When questioned, however, he assured us that he was not allowed to chew gum at school and he had not accepted gum from any strangers he met on his way home.

That left Eden and Isaac, both of whom were trying to keep a straight face as we discussed this heinous crime.

With no evidence, no motive (other than that pine tar business), and no confession, I had to admit defeat and clean up the mess myself. Eeeeeew. I hate gum. I used to love gum. I was a pack a week chewer. It's what got me through high school and college. Trident. Cinnamon flavor. But I digress. There was a crime to solve.

I pulled over a chair (thus proving that I could not have committed this crime without the help of an assistive device), pulled out my knife, and started to scrape.

Except the "gum" came off quite easily. Too easily, in fact. It just chipped away.

And then it occurred to me. Victor had occupational therapy earlier in the day. She was bound and determined that he was going to eat with a spoon. I had just given her a glowing update on his new scooping-and-feeding-himself-with-a-spoon skills and she was ready for the show. Only he wasn't in the mood for showing off. In a fit of rage when I wasn't paying attention, he grabbed the spoon that he was determined not to use for its intended purpose today, and flung it far, far away. The yogurt (pink yogurt, I might add) that I had already scooped to make the task easier, landed all over the floor and on the OT's pants.

What we all missed but will have to wait for the televised reverse-action slow-motion version to witness, was the glob that flew into the air and landed on the ceiling. Just sitting there drying all afternoon. Drying into a perfectly pink, bubble-gum-ish color and glob. Victor was our guilty party; sitting in the midst of "the talk", likely laughing to himself because he had fooled us all.

At least I had 7 other witnesses that also saw the original gum on the ceiling. Guess we all have egg on our faces now. Or is it gum?

Case closed. I just love a good mystery with a surprise ending. Don't you?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Someday this will be funny

Someday we are going to laugh about this.

Remember that time when I gave you a birthday gift of a trip to visit Andrew? When you cashed in on that trip three months later, we chose the weekend of a huge snowstorm. Your return trip got canceled when Chicago airport, your first destination, closed due to the storm. And the snow was moving east so there were no other options into Baltimore, either. Instead of being in the air during the Super Bowl (a genius plan to get out of watching the game), you were stuck in a hotel by yourself.

Yeah, someday we're going to laugh about this whole adventure.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

My evolution of flying

I didn't get to experience my first plane ride until I was 12 years old. It was the long-awaited trip to Disney World. It's possible that we could have gone sooner but the rule was that we would not be taking the coveted trip until my younger brother could walk around the whole mall without complaining. It took him til he was 9  years old. It is quite possible that this was just a cover-up to prolong the inevitable trip of a lifetime for every young child. Nevertheless, I loved that first flight.

Just a few years later I was able to fly again, this time by myself, coming home from a visit with my cousins in Illinois. Then there was that trip to Europe that my friend and I took, with our memorable flights on China Air. And finally, my honeymoon flight to Nova Scotia. (That's right, if you marry Cindy, you will not get to enjoy any exotic trips to resorts or on cruise ships.) Yes, those were the days when I loved the exhilaration of flying in an airplane.

And then I had kids. And.All.The.Stuff. And entertaining little ones on a flight. When there were just two littles and The Good Doctor was a youth pastor, we decided to join him and his teens on a trip to the annual denominational convention. It was in Orlando that year with side trips to Disney and Sea World. Why not? Why, oh why, indeed?

We left with one child on meds for an ear infection. We came home with 2 children and a mother suffering from the stomach flu. On the airplane. Not fun. At all.

And combining kids with the prospect of flying made me think of wills. And the need for one. No, I definitely did not like planes anymore. It wasn't too much of a problem, though, because with a family of our size, vacationing with the need for flights was financially and logistically impossible.

Until we found out about Victor. In the span of three months I had to get on and off an airplane 9 times plus all of the connecting flights in between the east and west coasts. Always saying good-bye to someone on one side of the US or the other. It was hard but in answer to a call I put one foot in front of the other. I cried buckets walking through the doors, wiped the tears away before going through the security check and choked them back while sitting next to strangers making small talk for hours in the air. When it was over, I never wanted to get on a plane again.

For my birthday, The Good Doctor decided it would be nice to fly me to Kentucky to spend some time with Andrew. I wanted to spend time with Andrew so blocked out the thought of walking into another airport.

That worked until Friday morning when I found myself once again being dropped off just yards from the entrance. My brain couldn't convince my heart that this was a good thing. A vacation. No hospital or medical wires or unknowns on the other end. Just Andrew. Only the prayers of The Good Doctor got me to turn around and walk through those doors.

And then, just in case I was thinking of enjoying flying again, the plane was delayed and my connecting flight was in jeopardy. But the airline's promise to make up time held true and the plane that took me from Baltimore to Philadelphia (because we all know the best way to go south is to go east first) did its job. The sky was beautiful and sunny and since the early model Wright Brother's plane I was on didn't have enough uumph to get over the clouds, the view of the coast and land below was exhilarating. I could have gone house shopping, the view was so close and clear.

And here I am. I enjoyed 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep. No CPAP, no snoring, no blind baby requesting a pacifier or covers or "mu-ic" at 3 in the morning just because his lack of vision messes with his circadian rhythm. I ate a breakfast that I didn't have to make or clean up. I'm going to have lunch with my son and then watch him direct the filming of a college basketball game. We'll enjoy the evening together and then I'll get another night of uninterrupted sleep. I hear there's snow coming. Looks like my flights might be canceled. Maybe I should just book myself another couple of nights here.

I just might start liking the airlines again.