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, October 31, 2014

Creating costumes

Most years my mom would make my Halloween costume. Sometimes it coordinated with my brother's costume, like the year we were Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy. I bet some of you don't even know who they are anymore.

For a few years I continued this tradition, making the costumes for my children. And then I realized that it was a whole lot cheaper to buy second-hand costumes than it was to buy the fabric and pattern and accessories to make our own.

This year, however, Eden made her own costume. When she showed me a picture of a milk and cookies costume and told me that is what she wanted, I told her there was no reason she couldn't make it. While it could have been glued together, it seemed to me like the perfect project for a beginner sewer. None of the seams had to be straight so it wouldn't matter if she had a little goof.

I think she did great!

We also had a little monkey complete with banana, a kitty cat who couldn't leave the house without her pink sneakers and the chaperone who decided to roam the neighborhood as two slices of bacon.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

I know it's my birthday when...

...everyone gathers bright and early and stares at me at the breakfast table

...my kitchen is replenished, most of which I placed on my wish list myself

...my sons look guilty because they didn't make the obligatory card their father reminded them to make last night

...the under-the-bed bin of wrapping paper and gift bags is out and its contents are strewn all over the floor

...my college son calls me

...The Good Doctor finds it necessary to write a Facebook post about me and this day

...I don't have to do any work thanks to a lovely rule my children made up a few years ago so that they would have one day a year work free.

...The laundry, dishes, toys, junk, and dust pile up around me due to the lovely rule my children made a few years ago so that they would have one day a year work free. Unfortunately, they also seem to think they get a free pass on my birthday.

...I have extra work the next day because of that lovely rule... you get where this is going...

...I feel very loved

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Guest post from a new friend

Hello beautiful people!

My name is Kerry and I am so appreciative to Cindy for allowing me to share my heart in this space today.  Cindy is a new friend and I am so thankful for this online community that brought us together.

My husband and I are adoptive parents to two little people.  Our littlest, Toby, just came home about 6 months ago.  As many of you may know, adoption can be very expensive and most people who feel called to adopt don't have a huge amount of savings to use for the adoption.  So we have to get creative.

Before bringing Toby home we researched fundraising options and my husband and I always loved the idea of selling t-shirts to raise money for our adoption.  We looked at some online tee companies but never really loved the designs plus we kind of liked the idea of printing our own.  So a few months before we found out about Toby's situation, when we were still waiting, we ordered a screen printing kit and started playing around with and learning about screen printing.  We had a lot of fun with it but then things with Toby happened so fast, we never got around to actually making any shirts.

On our way home from Florida, where Toby was born, we talked about the press and the other supplies we had in our house and what we should do with them.  We decided we wanted to start a little business and help another family on their adoption journey.

One thing we learned from our journey to get Toby is that even though the adoption journey can feel lonely at times there is a large adoption community (online and in our churches) and they are some of the most generous people on the planet.  We literally could not have adopted Toby if it had not been for so many generous people.  With that in mind, we decided that as a family we wanted to come alongside another adoptive family and support them on their adoption journey.  We decided we wanted to walk with them until their child came home.  And we wanted to tell their story and pray with them and just be with them on their journey.

livi joy is the small business that was born out of this.  Livi is what we call our oldest daughter, Alivea - the one who stole our heart 6 years ago when she joined our family through adoption.  I had no idea how adoption was going to change my life when she was born.  I had no idea how adoption was going to draw me closer to Jesus.  And now it's our family business- standing with another family because ONE matters.  We believe that.  We believe that ONE family, ONE orphan, ONE child matters.

Within a few weeks of coming home we found out about the Ludwig's, a super sweet family from Alabama who had answered the call to step out on their adoption journey.  Their story was a lot like ours.  A step of faith with no safety net.  Just wanting to be obedient.

We have developed a friendship with the Ludwig's and it is our desire to bless them on their journey and walk with them until their little one is in their arms.

We opened our shop two months ago and have been designing and selling tees to benefit the Ludwig's adoption fund.  A large portion of the sale from every tee goes directly to them.

Today, we are giving one away.  There are so many ways to enter.  Simply use the entry form below to be entered to win a tee of your choice.

To read more about our family please visit here.  And thank you so much, Cindy, again for allowing me to share my heart today.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 27, 2014

Redemption wins

Last night was a tough conversation with a child. He struggles. He doesn't want help. He doesn't want me. And he certainly knows how to push my buttons. Yeah, calling me an idiot is a definite button-pusher.

There is always loss in adoption. For some children, the loss is greater than for others. For some, loss didn't just happen once but multiple times and for others, it happens in multiple ways. Some children, for various and often unknown reasons, handle loss better than others. Some periods of life can make loss more pronounced.

As a parent, it can be so difficult to watch the healing process. You want to fix everything for a child who doesn't want to believe that fixing is necessary or that you are the best person for the job.

Sometimes I don't feel like the best person for the job. So I read another book, we attend another counseling session, we talk to those who know.

This morning my quest for wisdom involved a lunch bag, a passage of Scripture, and a song.

I was awakened in the wee hours of the morning and couldn't go back to sleep. I decided I might as well get up and get something accomplished during my insomnia. I remembered that this child's lunch bag handle was detached and unraveling. I recently learned that I connect best with God when doing something for someone else. This may not be news to you, but it was to me. You mean I don't have to sit quietly for an hour praying for someone while my mind spends more time wandering than praying? I can pray as I serve? Eye-opening and releasing for sure.

So that's what I did. While the rest of the house slept, I gathered needle and thread and the lunch bag, and started sewing. And as I sewed, I prayed. I prayed that redemption would win, that the struggle would end, that God would do the work of mending a heart that's frail and torn. And maybe that heart is mine as much as his.*

I prayed through 1 Corinthians 13, so familiar yet so full of truth. As I read each verse, I added my own request, for greater kindness, perseverance, and yes, full and complete love. I prayed that my flawed attempts at perfect love would be seen as love that first comes from the Father, perfect love. I don't want to be a clanging cymbal, an annoying, repetitive noise from which one just wants to run as far as possible. I want to be patient, unfailing, complete love to him.

And my morning ended (or began?) with the reminder that we know the end of the story.

Spoiler alert: Redemption does win! The struggle does end! And torn, frail hearts are mended!

Praise God!

*Tenth Avenue North, Worn

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Mommy time-out

I have long been a proponent of Mommy Time-out as a means of discipline.  You know, the kind of discipline where you put yourself in time-out before speaking to a child or addressing a situation. I go to my safe place (ie. the bathroom), shut the door, and calm down. Then I'm ready to return.

Or I used to think that's how it works. Recently, a friend of mine shared some of her experiences with Mommy Time-out. They were very similar to mine but only to the point of leaving the room before talking with a child or children. After finding her safe place, she spends time in prayer, asking God to show her how to proceed, and not leaving the room until He has spoken.

Boy did I feel stupid! Of course! Mommy Time-out is indeed for space and time to calm down, but it is also a magnificent opportunity to gain wisdom from the One who knows my child, and me, best. Just as I know my child can't change any behaviors on his or her own strength, neither can I.

And it didn't take long for an opportunity to present itself. To protect the innocent and the guilty, let's just call them Party A and Party B.

I returned home from taxi service to find a very frustrated Child-in-Charge. Apparently Party A and Party B had been arguing over a pencil and an eraser. Yes, you read that correctly, a pencil and an eraser. Each one claimed ownership. Party A claimed it was his. His proof was that it had been found near his school books and that it had a crack he knew he had put in it. Party B claimed it was hers and that it just happened to be found near his school books. She claimed that the crack could have come from anyone or anywhere.

I tried Solomon's approach, suggesting that we just break the two items in half and distribute them evenly but that wasn't going to fly.After a short conversation, it was clear that the pencil belonged to Party A and that Party B just didn't want to concede.  I dismissed Party A at this point because we were at an impasse. I believed that the issues of control and refusal to give in when she was clearly in the wrong still needed to be dealt with.

I asked to excuse myself for a moment. Needing to make a quick taxi trip, I told her that I would be back to talk.

I spent that car ride in prayer. On the way back, I felt like I was supposed to stop at CVS and buy her a pack of pencils and a new eraser. It didn't make any sense. Even more, I was supposed to take a Sharpie and write, "You are loved," on each of the items.

I did all of that. She looked at me, terribly confused. She knew she was in the wrong yet she was so far in she couldn't get herself out. She expected to be put in her place. Instead, she received a gift, free and unexpected. That's grace.

And that's how I knew it was a word from the Lord. I wouldn't have thought of that. I wouldn't have carried it out on my own strength. But I did and two of us learned a lesson in grace.

Try it the next time you need a Mommy Time-out.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Backpacks of Hope

If you fallow my mom's blog than you probable know that last year our entire family went to Utah to visit our mom and Mr. Victor (my brother) in the nicu and when my sister was haeing her turn to meet Victor the lady at thedesk gave me a bag and said that one day people droped these of here and said "Give the bags to the children who have sibling in the nicu." the bags had coloring books, games, puzzles, and stickers. they were really fun to play with. this morning I thought about that, and how it was so fun and helped me to realacks a little bit and I said to myself "What if I made bags like that for children in foster care becouse most of them have hardly anything. and I told my mom about that and she said "that is a perfect summer project. So that is what I am going to be doing this year. if you want to help, the help will be needed. So you can donate money to us to be able to buy everything for the bags. than k you everything is helpfull you can contact my mom by email or her phone number. thank you.  Eden

Eden wrote this note in the spring at the ripe old age of 9 and gave it to me with a request to post it on my blog and on Facebook.  I just love her heart and compassion for others and her desire to make a difference. She's not going to "let others look down on her because she is young" but instead wants to see wheels turning toward justice right now.

Right or wrong, I held on to her note for a time. Would people want to help a 9 year old? Was there a need? 

So I contacted our county's Children and Youth services and asked them if there was interest in a "backpack" drive. They very quickly agreed. They try to send each child into foster care with a backpack or bag, pajamas, and a stuffed animal or book. This project fit perfectly with their need for these items to be readily available. With their approval, I approached the members of Victorious Hope, a newly formed missional community of which we are a part. This project seemed like a good fit for our mission which is to care for orphans and those who love them.

Eden designed a brochure and we announced the project at the beginning of the month. What an excellent response. She already has more than a dozen backpacks and bags, about the same number of pajamas as well as various other items to place in bags to bless children.  If we end up with more than our county can use, we will contact other counties and private agencies as well.  Every child deserves something to call her own.

This project is on-going and we will deliver to Children and Youth as often as we have items to give them.  If interested, there is more information below.

Backpacks of Hope Project

Items to be collected:
1. Backpacks and bags - they can be used if in like-new condition
2. Pajamas - any size from infants through juniors but they are more in need of larger sizes
3. Stuffed animals
4. Children's and teen's books
5. Misc. items to bless a child - school supplies, lunch bag, clothing, toy or game, coloring book, etc.

Please contact any member of the King family if you would like to donate, kingzoo@comcast.net

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

White Cane Day

As if all those October birthdays aren't enough reason to keep us celebrating, I just learned that today is White Cane Day.

That probably means nothing to you, and 2 years ago, it wouldn't have meant much to me, either. But now it does. And because it means something to me, I'm asking that it mean something to you, too. Especially if you have kids.
Victor's first cane arrived in February

Kids can be really mean. Even if there is nothing obviously out of the ordinary "wrong" with you, kids (and some extremely rude and disrespectful adults whose mothers never taught them to be kind and compassionate) will find a reason to ridicule and reject. But we can do something about this. We can teach our children that every person is fearfully and wonderfully made. We can remind them that when they see someone who looks or acts differently in a certain way, they should respond with kindness and respect.
Victor loves pushing this can around - pre-mobility training

So, parents, please, take advantage of White Cane Day. If you don't know what to say, this post will help. Show your children pictures of children and adults using a white cane. Tell your children why. Talk about independence and how everyone strives for it.

For Victor's sake.