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!
Saturday, February 25, 2017
Although most of the process is the same (gather a mound of paperwork and tell us every little secret about your life because if you don't we'll find out anyway), the requirements do change year-to-year, agency-to-agency so there are always a few surprises. Like the fact that they no longer require HIV tests for adoptive parents and the teens in the home. Go figure. Used to matter but apparently no more? TB tests are still required. Again, go figure. But rest assured, no one in my home has either nor do we have anything that would cause a physician to deem us unworthy to adopt another child. I know. Our doctors had to fill out that paperwork. Again.
But there was a question that we were asked this time that we've never been asked before:
Do you plan to add more children to your family?
I looked at John and smiled.
He avoided eye contact.
No, not really.
Well, kind of.
But then he gave his "Cindy is the accelerator and I am the brake" speech, implying that he's certain I'll find another child (I already did and she's perfect - singer, violinist, cerebral palsy, Bible name - what more could he ask for? Oh, and she's 16 meaning we'd have quadruplets! Hey, if you're already teaching 3 to drive, why not 4?) and he'll have to be the one to hold me back.
And that's a great speech. My answer took a bit longer as this is something I've been thinking a lot about lately.
You see, my clock is ticking. Unless God pulls an Abraham and Sarah on us, there will be no more babies (until grandchildren, of course - and they can take their time - just not too much time).
The Good Doctor's age (cause he's older than me) + 18 = Too old to have a high school senior
And that scares me because that means that saying there will be more children means that they will all be older. And older children come with older "stuff".
But here's what I've been thinking:
You can make many plans, but the Lord's purpose will prevail.
I think I'm done with making plans. God's plans have been so much better than mine, the cost so much greater - yes, yet the dividends so much more rewarding.
I recently spoke to a friend who I hadn't seen for quite some time. She summed this up so well as she told me about a recent addition to their family - just after a few months enjoying their (finally) empty nest, a totally unplanned and unexpected elementary aged girl entered their lives and their family. With joy all over her countenance, she told me how God was teaching her that it's better to live expectant lives than overwhelmed lives.
And I couldn't agree more.
So will there be more?
Join me as we wait with expectation.
Friday, February 24, 2017
The Good Doctor's dad acquired "the house", which just happened to be located next to the funeral home, in some form of funeral payment (small town stuff). Upon entering the home, it was apparent that this was not going to be some quick flip or fixer-upper. The house had been lived in by a hoarder. The worst room was an upstairs bedroom complete with a pile of dirty disposable diapers piled in the center. But every room was covered with piles of boxes and bags with only a single pathway from door to door. And every bag and box had to be looked through carefully. What appeared to be a box of newspaper, would surprise you with a layer of Avon or knick-knacks sandwiched in-between. There was a dumpster in front of the house (emptied multiple times before the project was finished) and another area for boxes of items for a future garage sale. The garage was the same but was also the location of the greatest find - tucked inside a purse inside something else was a ring box with a diamond ring inside. It became a project in which everyone jumped into. The Good Doctor and I were in college but we spent more than one weekend helping to go through "the house".
That's a true hoarder but I suspect most of us have hoarding tendencies in at least one area. I'll admit that for me, it's books and fabric. I'm getting better at the books and have parted with many of them but still own my fair share. But the fabric... I have old jeans (they make great quilts and purses and bibs and I have a pattern for Christmas stockings that I'm going to make someday), old shirts (which also make great quilts and bibs), and any time someone says, "I found a box of fabric in my mother's attic, do you want it?"... The answer is always yes. So many projects, so little time. But as long as there are weddings and births and funerals (yes, even funerals, as some families like to have a remembrance of their loved one in the creation of a blanket or quilt made from that person's jeans or shirts), I will have a place for all of that fabric.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
I almost called them simpler times and I still think they were but they did involve a lot of physical therapy and speech therapy and occupational therapy and researching Optic Nerve Hypoplasia ...
But then I think of how far he's come.
What I love best about these photos is that they are so normal. My sighted kids spilled plenty in their early days of independence, too.
He loves to be a helper. Poor PopPop. It's hard to get any work done when you're followed around by the 3 year old. "What are you doing? Can I touch it? Can I walk here? What is that? What are you doing? Is that the paint? Can I touch it? Why are you doing that? What are you doing? Where are you going? What are you doing?" Over and over and over again. My father had extreme patience but HopeAnne and I both had to chuckle when, after 3 days, his answer to the, "What are you doing?" question (once again) was, "Would it surprise you if I said I was painting?" Dead serious.
His memory amazes me. He talks about the sound of the ocean - from last summer. This morning, out of the blue, as we were driving to pretty school, he yelled "Oooooooooooooooo, I remember when Jesse got me baptized. He took me in the bathroom and he sprayed water on me even though I had my clothes on. That was so fun." That was last Easter, the day Hope was baptized. Jesse was trying to placate a troubled preschooler who was frustrated that he couldn't be baptized. Up front. Right at that moment. But Victor remembers.
His TSS finally started just after Christmas. She's with him every day in the classroom. Having someone with him one-on-one has almost eliminated accidents at pretty school. At the end of each day he has to take me into the office and tell me about his day. If it's a good day (good = no trips to the office for negative behavior), then we get a treat on the way home. The first day with this new plan, he told me that he had been to the office 3 times. Okay, no treat. The second day, he proudly told me that he had been to the office 0 times. Okay, a treat. The third day, he told me that he had been to the office 0 times, while Ms. Rebecca stood in the background shaking her head and holding up 2 fingers. Sorry, smartie pants. You may have figured out the system but we're on to you. We've consistently had 1 - 2 treat days a week. That is progress.
And he can be so sweet. When he wants to be. He brought a brailled paper home from pretty school today. He has been learning to use the Brailler with his TVI and loves to push the keys, similar to a child scribbling on paper and telling you that it says something. I asked him what it said. He felt the dots a bit and then said, "It says, 'I love you forever.'"
He sure knows how to melt my heart.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
He loved that thing to death. All that's left are the cymbals and one small drum.
Lucky for him he's figured out how to make a cymbals sound with his mouth so he can take it with him wherever he goes. Not so lucky for anyone around; his cymbals come with spit. They have caused others great discomfort. Spitting and cymbals don't go well together. Just sayin'.
So maybe, with the three year old drummer in the house, that's why the phrase "resounding gong and clanging cymbal" has been going round and round my head for the past few weeks, prompting a new study of 1 Corinthians 13. It's probably in a tie with Psalm 23 for the most quoted chapter of Scripture, known by Christians and non-Christians alike. I remember memorizing it in elementary school. King James Version, of course. I recall a middle school assignment where we were to take 1 Corinthians 13 and make it fit a particular career. And who can forget the Good Doctor reciting this passage as part of his proposal? Not me. Especially since the book and chapter are inscribed inside our wedding bands.
But oh how quickly we forget. I'm trying. I really am. I'm trying to pause before speaking or commenting. Trying to pause before correcting. Trying to respond out of love, not impatience, anger, or pride. I, for one, am thankful that there is grace to cover me on the days I am only a resounding gong and clanging cymbal.
And for earplugs when someone else's gongs and cymbals are clashing!
And no, I did not plan this for Valentine's Day. I've been mulling over this gongs and cymbals phrase and finally had a few moments to sit and write. And then I remembered what day it is. Yup, I'm that romantic. But never fear, Good Doctor, there's hope. I just might have gotten a little misty-eyed when there was a proposal on the Today show this morning. It was just a little bit, but it was there. Maybe next year's my year?
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
On the other hand, when my child is still spinning in the reading corner when he should have just left the carpet from circle time, and then respectfully found his coat and backpack, and then quietly chosen a seat to politely wait for his name to be called for dismissal, then we still stand out as all of the other children and parents are paired up and leaving the building while I stand waiting.
So you can imagine my surprise when yesterday I arrived and the first thing I saw was that Victor's usual spot in the reading corner (bouncing from sofa to chair with spins in-between) was filled not with Victor but with his TSS and BSC who both looked over and gave me thumbs-up. What?????
Yes, Ms. Cindy told me after joining me at the head of the parent line, not only was he currently sitting in circle time, but he was also obedient all morning, listening not just to the teachers he likes but to all of the teachers, therapists, and student teachers with him for the morning. He did have an accident (story of our lives) but he told on himself and then proceeded to calmly change his own clothes.
Who was this and what did he do with my beloved Victor? Never mind. Don't answer that. I'll take this one.
The rest of the day was the same. Of course we had a few outbursts but they were oh so normal. As in, any other preschooler might have had the same reaction to the same situation.
I couldn't help but share our good news on FB and thank the many, many people who pray for Victor and for our family. In that announcement, I stated that I had no idea what the explanation was but that I was thankful for the reprieve and praised God for this day.
And then I got a message from one of my prayer partners. Uh, duh, Cindy, of course things went better. You sent out an SOS letter to your prayer team this weekend, asking for extra prayer coverage in your home and over your up-coming speaking engagements.
Okay, she wasn't as blunt. But she was right. I had asked for prayer. I have multiple speaking engagements this month and was feeling the spiritual warfare in our home, something that I've found it common when I am doing a lot of speaking. So why should I be surprised, when, just a few days later, that extra prayer covering moves mountains?
And oh, the irony... two of those speaking engagements were/are on (wait for it....) praying for our children.
Of course. Sometimes the lesson is most needed by the teacher. I remembered to pray for my family, and to ask for extra prayer covering, but the part I forgot? To wait in expectancy for the answer.
"You'll never be a perfect parent, but you can be a praying parent. Prayer is your highest privilege as a parent. Don't just leverage it as a last resort when all else fails. Make it your first priority. Nothing you can do will give you a higher return on your investment, and the dividends are both generational and eternal. God will answer your prayers for your children long after you are gone. Prayer turns ordinary parents into prophets who shape the destinies of their children, grandchildren, and every generation that follows." Mark Batterson
Friday, January 27, 2017
But then he brought Victor home.
He has been home less than 24 hours and this morning I've already changed his underwear 5 times.
Nothing like a week of vacation to put you back to square one.
But let's look at the positive side.
I've completed (all but hand sewing the binding, which I can do with Victor in tow) 3 quilts; 1 picnic/throw blanket size and 2 baby quilts. I cleared all the mending off the sewing chair except for one shirt that was too far gone and a pair of pants that I still can't remember why they were there. And that was all in the first 3 days because after that there were men working in the basement and I would have been in their way (and they in mine). I cleaned out the laundry room and HopeAnne's room (the latter took 2 days). I've had daily uninterrupted time for devotions and Bible study preparation. I spent two wonderful days with my very mature 12 year old since she had those days off from school. We went to Color Me Mine, attended her parent/teacher conference, watched another food documentary (if that girl isn't a teacher some day, she is most likely going to be a nutritionist; she loves her food and nutrition documentaries!). I was able to finally schedule PT for a heel/tendon issue that has resurfaced since surgery corrected it in high school. And then I went to the Y to run and undo all that they had done (in my defense, they did not say that I couldn't run). In fact, I got to the Y a total of 4 days while they were gone; joining the retired folks making that trek around the track. That doesn't happen when Victor is home; he's not exactly YMCA childcare material. I think (but I lost count) I had chai every day except one and went to the same coffee shop three days in a row as I had lunch with 2 friends and coffee/chai with another. I took 2 different children to the orthodontist on 2 separate days and didn't have to entertain Victor in the waiting room. I set up and facilitated (with Eden in John's place) the first Victorious Hope Adoption Consulting training/support session. It was the perfect start to our almost-monthly meetings with an engaging and encouraging speaker who spoke on the topic of caring for the biological children in our homes when brining in kids from places of trauma. I picked up Shoun from swimming. Some days he was there on time. Some days he wasn't. And some days he put "practice" on the calendar but it was really a meet so I went to pick him up twice; one false alarm and once for realsies.
So after putting things into perspective, what's 5 pairs of soiled underwear when compared to all that?
But on a lighter note, I did enjoy one more Victor-ism after a week without:
Me: Victor, I'm not very happy that you had another accident. I never said I wanted to have children so that I could clean poop off their butts. Not ever. This is not why I wanted to be a parent. Did you know that?
Victor (clearly not understanding the definition of a rhetorical question, very seriously answered): No, I did not.
Now he knows. We'll see if it makes a difference.
And the Good Doctor did obey my command to not set foot inside the front door until at least 4PM. He even took a detour through Washington, D.C. just to make sure that wouldn't happen. And when he arrived home at 3:55 PM, he told HopeAnne and Victor to play outside for 5 minutes. I let them in at 3:56. Close enough.
Monday, January 23, 2017
From a birth mom who loved you so dearly that she wouldn't give up on you even in the midst of an abusive relationship, without sufficient support to encourage her, and knowing that she just couldn't care for another child. She had hope for you. She had love for you.
To our family where we refuse to give up, no matter how difficult it gets. Who will always love you, whether or not you are able to consistently return that love.
And today, it was these words that stuck out to me:
This is my prayer for not just Victor but for every member of my family, for every friend of mine who calls Jesus their Lord and Savior. This is my prayer for myself. In a day when divisiveness and disparaging remarks are considered normal, may our speech, our lives, our actions reflect only grace, justice, mercy, kindness, and Jesus.