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, May 27, 2016

Slowly

"Mommy, I see another me."

When Heidi Baker prayed over Victor, she said that his healing would be gradual.

And this is definitely true of his vision.

Today it finally occurred to me that I likewise shouldn't expect his self-injurious and negative behaviors to improve in one fell swoop. Patience. Kindness. Love. These we will give while we wait, for as long as it takes.




Sunday, May 22, 2016

More Victor-isms

More Victor-isms from the past two months in which you can see his transition from Johnny Cash to the Beatles.

Me: Victor, your new OT named Ms. Sue is coming today.
Victor: Yes, A Boy Named Sue is coming today.
*****
I was awakened for the second time that night, this time at 4:30AM. I went into his room expecting to retrieve a paci, turn on the music, give him covers, any of the usual requests. But no, this time he said to me, "I had a bad day."

And you waited until now to tell me this?
*****
It was time to get rid of the pacifier. We spent the whole day talking about no more pacifiers and how we were going to give them to a baby who needed them because Big Boy Victor did not need them anymore. It took him a while to fall asleep the first night but he didn't cry or scream, just needed extra time to settle.

The next morning he said to me, "We gave my pacis to a baby. Tonight we will give the pacis to VICTOR!"
*****
Shoun, can you kiss my snot?
*****
While playing his "drums" (a glockenspiel and two up-turned plastic bins), Victor asked, "Can I be youd (loud) like Jesse?" I gave him permission and he promptly whacked the first plastic bin so hard that he cracked it but the show went on with Victor telling me, "It's Beatles time," singing Yellow Submarine alone with his whacking.
*****
Victor: Mommy, can I apologize?
Me: Sure (wondering what he did this time).
Victor: What do I need to apologize for?
Me: I have no idea.
*****
The day after a trip to the ER:
Victor: Where is my motorcycle?
Me: What motorcycle?
Victor: At the ER I eat a motorcycle.

Later, I inquired of the doctor, what could he possibly be talking about?
The Good Doctor: A popsicle. They gave him a popsicle.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Mouth wide open

Some babies are born with their eyes wide open. They will be inquisitive and always wanting to learn more about the world around them.

Or so they say.

And sometimes a baby is born with her mouth wide open.

And she never, ever shuts it.

Ever.


And sometimes these babies grow up to be loud, spunky, and bossy.

There was a period of time when the Good Doctor would come home from school and rather than ask how the kids had been that day, he would simply ask, "So, who did Mariana fight with today?"


But sometimes those loud, spunky, bossy children become loud, spunky, independent, encouraging leaders. We have one of those.

And we couldn't be prouder. Grayer, maybe. But prouder, too.

18 years ago and a baby who wanted to announce her presence to the world.

Who knew what these 18 years would hold? It's probably a good thing we had no idea of the ride this would be! But there has never been a dull moment.

Happy 18th, Mariana, and best wishes on the next chapter.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Crafting genes

I am blessed to be part of a long line of crafters, on both sides of the family. This is obviously important because things like having a green thumb only come down one side and I guess the gene was too weak - I didn't get it. But crafting, that one is pretty dominant.

There are so many examples I could give of the gifts that my relatives have made for me and for my family, or that got passed down through the years, but since this one comes on the heels of Mariana's 18th birthday gift from my mom, we'll focus on this.

My mom (MomMom to my kids because she thought she was too young to be a Grandma, Grandmom, Nana, Nannie, or such terms) has been saving at least one photo from each of Mariana's shows through the years. That's a lot of years and a lot of shows. For about the past two years she's had each one transferred to fabric with the plan of making a quilt or wall hanging.

Last night Mariana was presented with this unique gift. To say she was grateful would be to put it too mildly.

And it did remind me of just a few other projects through the years...

The quilt my mom made for my high school graduation and which was on my bed throughout my college years. Mine has only two shows and they're embroidered, not photo representations. But the reminders of my family and interests such as Bethany Birches Camp, my cocker spaniel, and my family were just as special.


And the baby quilt my mom made for a very special (and only - at the time) granddaughter. In fact, my mom was so ready for a girl after 2 grandsons that she had this made before Mariana was born, knowing that we never found out the gender of the baby until the moment in delivery when the doctor peeks and declares it to be. That's either a lot of wishful thinking or a lot of faith!


She even included a matching Sunbonnet Sue dress and hat for Mariana to wear with the quilt for her first birthday photos.


And here we are, almost 18 years later!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Today's miracle

If he was just blind, this would be so much easier.

There. I said it. I see no reason to hide the truth.

That doesn't mean I don't love him as he is. It doesn't mean that I doubt his place in our family. It doesn't mean that I won't do everything I can to help him.

It does mean that I want him to be the victorious person that God promised he would be.

And so I'm becoming one of those moms. One of those parents who is searching out every single therapist or doctor or specialist or *gasp* medication that I can to bring us some relief from his defiant, manipulative, and self-injurious behaviors.

But in the midst of all of this striving, I am also on my knees begging the God who knows him inside and out to please, please bring the promised victory. Today. Now. Right away.

A little over a week ago I was impressed with the thought that I should carefully choose some Scriptures to pray over him daily. I already have a passage that I pray over him just as I do all of the children but this would be a list to keep in his room to audibly pray over him. Every morning, he eagerly snuggles in my lap as I pray these 7 passages over him. We start with the fruit of the Spirit which he has already memorized and often recites with me. His favorite words seem to be perseverance and self-control. Good words for him. We end with a section of the Scripture I have prayed over him nearly from the beginning. Psalm 20:7 is written as, "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God." For the purposes of this daily prayer, I have changed it to read,  "Some trust only in medicine and therapists and their own intelligence, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God." This is not to say that we do not seek the wisdom of those to whom has been given wisdom that we don't have but that our ultimate trust is in the One who gives that wisdom and intelligence.

And then on Sunday, the speaker in our adult Sunday School class continued a series on spiritual authority. He told the story of a time when he taught in a school for children with emotional needs. He and a few other Christian teachers often met to pray before the school day. One day they decided to go around the school and anoint each room with oil, praying over the school, the teachers, and the students. He reported that the student's negative behaviors were significantly less that day. But then, like the Israelites, and like us, this group of praying staff members so quickly forgot and did they continue to anoint the rooms and pray over them every day? No, they did not.

He told this story, not to suggest that anointing someone or something with oil is always going to produce the expected results. It is not a name it and claim it mentality as there also needs to be an intimacy with the Father and a hearing from the Holy Spirit in each situation. However, his story spoke to me. I've been sensing for some time that we should be more purposeful in praying over Victor, his room, and his behaviors. I talked to the Good Doctor about this one day a few weeks ago so we did follow through. That one day.  The Good Doctor had already left this morning so when Victor woke up, I first anointed his door before entering and then again anointed his forehead while praying for him.

Tuesdays are rough days for us. Victor's TVI (teacher of the visually impaired) comes on Tuesdays and we spend most of the 45 minutes listening to Victor scream, "No," while banging his head and running away from us. He is completely defiant and refuses to participate in whatever pre-braille activities she has brought. I usually have to sit in the room with them, playing bouncer and running interference. Today, however, was different. Not perfect, but different. And I had even forgotten to put his weighted vest on, a fact which we did not catch until about halfway through this session. Today he spent the first 15 minutes totally and actively engaged with her, following her directions, and obediently responding to each request. I was even able to leave the room during this time and allow the two of them to interact. The middle 15 minutes were a bit more difficult, more like the past, but then even in the last 15 minutes he allowed her to re-introduce some of the activities she had tried during the middle part of the lesson.

In the midst of visits with behavioral specialists and play therapists, it was refreshing to watch a miracle unfold in front of our eyes. The difference between today's session and the last month of sessions (since transitioning to the intermediate unit from early intervention) was nothing short of miraculous. A miracle this Israelite needed to see today.

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27: 13 -14

Note to self: Only be careful that you do not forget! Deuteronomy 4:9


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Another year, another prom

We're pros at this prom thing. This year marks the 6th consecutive year that we've traipsed to a park or some other such site, cameras in tow, for pictures of ladies and gents dressed to the nines.

So, we figure, at this point, why be normal?

How about nontraditional prom photos?

We've got the photobombing 3 year old brother.


Well, and just the adorable 3 year old brother with big sister.


Can't forget the older brothers and their swords.


And older brothers, younger sister and littlest brother with corsage box...


There's this one that goes against everything I read recently in some FB rant against these kinds of photos but since we're not the kind of family that cares what you think about this...


And even better...


His socks...


Their feet (cause hers don't touch the ground)...


I just don't know...


But there were some normal ones, too...

Mom and Dad



The group...


And of course, the couple...


And now we're done with prom. At least for two more years. When we could quite possibly have three juniors.

But that's too far away to worry about now.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Running my race



We ran a 5K today. We both beat our personal record.

One of us did so by finishing in 23:56.70 with a 12th place finish out of 1,069 girls ages 12 and under (33rd overall). The other did so by running her first 5K ever.

Never mind her time or place.

Okay, it was 30:07.73 and 15th out of 111 old ladies.

For one of us, it was just another day, another run. Doing what she loves best.

For the other one, it was so much more.

It sounded like a good idea back in April when I signed us both up for this race. For one of us, it would be her 5th 5K. No big deal. For me, it would be my first. Remember, there is no athletic bone in my body. My brother got all of those genes. But for our 40th birthdays, my best friend decided that we should start the C25K program (Couch to 5K for those of you who are too athletic to need such motivational programs) with the goal of actually running a 5K. So we did. The program, that is. And then the next summer I did it again. And again the next summer. But we never did the actual 5K. And that was 6 years ago. That's a lot of starting over with no 5K to celebrate and finish this thing.

I decided enough was enough. It was time to "do vis fing" (translation: Do this thing) as Victor would say.

But a month ago it seemed like a lot better idea than it did today. Traveling home from Indiana last weekend it occurred to me that the race was only a week away and the last two weeks of rain meant that this fair weather runner didn't get out. Uh oh...

But I had to do it. Through the past several months of preparing, I realized that this meant more to me than just finishing a 5K. I had three simple physical goals:

1. Finish.
2. Finish somewhere other than last.
3. No walking.

But I had psychological, spiritual, and emotional goals, too. Running today, and finishing the race, was a means of symbolically ending some significant lies that ruled my life for a long time and of replacing them with truth.

For too long I believed the lie that I was worthless and had nothing to offer. My middle school and high school experiences led me to believe that I didn't have the right gifts and talents and that I had nothing to offer this world. I now see that as the false humility that it is. Who am I to tell God that He didn't give me the right gifts? That I don't have the talents to do the job He has asked me to do? No one in my past would have ever expected me to attempt a 5K let alone finish. By finishing, I solidified for myself that I can do what I have been purposed to do.

Life is not easy. Mine included. It was not meant to be easy. And that's okay. Sometimes there is no way to finish than through hard work and trials. I can carry on.

I can do hard things. Not being told that growing up, and never attempting anything out of my comfort zone until I was in my 30s, I lacked the confidence to try new things. Who knew that I could face the anger of a hurting, traumatized young man, keep potential run-aways from escaping with just a pen and a brownie (that's a great story - ask me sometime), and wake up each morning to the uncertainty of raising a behaviorally challenged (always growing) toddler? My 18 year old self would never have believed it.

And yet, I can't do any of this on my own power. I couldn't and I wouldn't want to do so. When I was running, the only things that kept me going was the image of Christ at my side, cheering me on, and the words of truth running through my iPod.

It's no surprise that these are the verses that I pray over my exceedingly fast daughter who also cheered me along the last half mile, even running with me for part of it (after finishing her own race, mind you):

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40: 30 - 31

Someone is proud of me. Today it was the Good Doctor. But at the end of this journey, it will be my Savior who won't care what my time is, how I compared to others, or what I look like. He doesn't expect me to be successful, only faithful.

And as an added bonus, while I watched the other 2,411 runners, at least half of whom were children, I was reminded of the vision I had while we debated over saying yes to that 1 lb. 13 oz. micro preemie. On that day, I saw Jesus approaching me with a baby in his arms. But there were more. Children kept coming to join Him and pretty soon there was a crowd of children surrounding Him. This was confirmed several months later when, after learning that Victor was totally blind, we took him to Heidi Baker for healing prayer. She prayed over him, saying that his healing would be gradual (which it has been!), and then focused her eyes and her prayers on the Good Doctor and me. She prophesied that we would be pioneers in the orphan care movement. Those were the children that I saw as I was running today. No longer orphans, but in loving families committed to the hard work of loving traumatized children.

Let's do vis fing!

Just call to me. I guarantee I will answer you. I will make you strong and brave. (Psalm 138:3 MSG)