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!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Cornelia

4-13-02 was a monumental day in the life of the King family. This is the day that Cornelia joined our family.

4-13-13 was an even more monumental day as that is the day Mr. Victor came into this world.

But you already know most of Mr. Victor's story so for today, let's talk about Cornelia.

I will let Andrew tell about 4-13-02 as he wrote it for a newspaper article published 12-3-02:

"Once there was a boy named Andrew. He liked snakes so much that he wanted to get one of his own. He had a friend named Harry who had a pet snake and one day, Harry said that there was going to be a reptile show where you could buy a snake if your mom says it is okay.

Andrew's mom said it was okay so Andrew, Harry and Andrew's dad went to the reptile show.

There were snakes, poison dart frogs, lizards and boa constrictors. But Andrew didn't want any of those animals. He wanted a corn snake. He looked and looked and looked and finally found one. He paid for it and when he got home he decided to name her Cornelia."

And that was that. Actually, there was much more to the story. As a first grader, Andrew used to enjoy spending time in Harry's middle school science classroom. Mr. A, as his student called him, had all kinds of creatures from tarantulas to hairless rats. I nixed the tarantula idea immediately. Andrew never really asked about the rats but he had his heart set on getting a snake. We decided that if he read about how to care for them and earned the money for the snake and at least several month's worth of food, he could get himself a corn snake. He complied. The snake became his.

This is the day Cornelia joined our home and Andrew introduced her to little brother, Isaac. She came home in a little styrofoam container with a lid, the kind that you'd bring home take-out cole slaw or appleasauce in. There used to be a nice picture of Andrew holding her but I have no idea what happened to it. So sad, because today we took our last pictures of Cornelia as a member of this family. As I cleaned Cornelia's cage the other day, I realized that I was really the only one paying attention to her anymore. Except for feeding day, that's John's job. I don't participate in the act of animals eating animals. But it's not like he does anything other than stick the mouse in the cage and walk away.


My Facebook post to find her a new home produced an interested party. Who wouldn't be interested after such a loving and glowing description? Free to a good home: 

The easiest pet you'd ever want. Female, friendly, loyal, makes your home the coolest one in the neighborhood, does not sniff humans in embarrassing places, hypo-allergenic, sheds only every other month or so but easily cleaned up, does "her business" only once every two weeks and then you feed her, no sitter needed when you go out, makes no noise, can live in a large fish tank with breathable, heavy (can't easily be removed) lid, needs no vet appointments or shots, has only run away twice in 15 years and each time stayed close to her cage and was easily found, and can have 5 more good years if the books are correct. Andrew King is understandably heartbroken to see her go, but if anyone is seriously interested in his non-poisonous pet corn snake, Cornelia (you can even change her name if you want), the snake grandparents are ready to find her a good home. And if you act now, we'll even throw in the heat lamp and any of the fake rocks in her cage that you can use. We promise complete anonymity for whoever wants her, just PM and she's yours!

Thank you, Cornelia, It's been a great 12+ years. We've watched you grow from about 12 inches to somewhere around 46, hard to tell with a slithering creature. Enjoy your new home.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

What did he say?

What kind of vocabulary do you find in a toddler who is the youngest of 8, with several teen teachers?

Kentucky - In honor of oldest brother's current location, believe it or not, it's one of his clearest pronunciations

Piece of cake - Said mostly in a growly voice, not to ask for dessert but because this obscure (to Victor) phrase was taught to him by older brother for no reason other than to hear him say it

I'm Batman - Same as above

Let It Go - Proof that you don't have to see the movie to get the songs stuck in your head; if your older sisters listen to it ad nauseam, you are bound to pick it up eventually

Chocolate - And if your oldest sister secretly gives you chocolate, you will learn to very sweetly request it from her when she picks you up

Ice cream - I take full credit for this, including the temper tantrum when it is done

Vacuum - Victor had a love-hate relationship with the vacuum. The noise used to scare him so badly that he would literally shake in our arms. Then he insisted on touching it when it was off and later when it was on. Now he loves it and requests to have someone vacuum so he can follow along repeating vacuum both during the actual vacuuming and after the job is done.

Shoes 'n socks - To Victor, this is all one word to refer to either item, but no matter what you call them, he doesn't like either

Open Close - Again, I think this is all one word. I think Isaac was about to go crazy the other day when  Victor spent 5 minutes opening and closing a kitchen drawer, narrating as he went

Cindy - Yes, my little parrot heard The Good Doctor address me so now he likes to call me by my given name.

And my favorite?
In response to my "Love ya," I get a very sweet, "Wuv ya!" in response.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

They're back!

That's right, our twins are back. For nine months of the year, we get to call Shoun and Isaac our resident twins. And with Isaac's birthday today, he's caught up to his 3-months-his-senior older brother and just like that, our twins are back.

One birthday tradition that has developed in the past several years is that of speaking words of affirmation over the birthday boy or girl. Every family member gets a chance, once a year, to be the center of attention and to bask in the truths that the others speak. Well, every family member except for the family organizer who, as the one making certain everyone else gets their words of affirmation, never got hers this year. And in response to that, I have just three words: peanut butter balls. So now we're even.

Anyway, during Isaac's words of affirmation experience, the Good Doctor started out this way, "When I was a youth pastor and I would speak to the young ladies about the man they would someday marry..."

At this point you should have seen Isaac's face.

Isaac: Dad, where are you going with this? I'm 14, remember?

Good Doctor: Just listen.  As I would speak to young ladies about the man they would someday marry, I would tell them to watch any potential suitor to see how he treated his mother. That's a pretty good indication of how he is going to treat his future wife.

Isaac: Aaaaaannnnnndddddd?

Good Doctor: And, I look at how you treat your mother and I can say with confidence that you are going to make a great husband someday.

There was definitely more than one nod of agreement around the table after these words were spoken and as the token mother in this group, I can vouch for Isaac's character in how he treats his mother.

Isaac, my teddy bear, the first to volunteer to help, the first to give a backrub, the first to eat my food without complaint (and yes, even egg casserole for lunch which apparently is the very worst thing I could ever serve) and the first to assist in caring for Victor. Indeed, that has been the most obvious to me this year. Multiple times during the day

it is Isaac who is entertaining Victor, by choice. It is Isaac who sings to him, who teaches him new tricks and new words. It is Isaac who who will randomly take Victor out of my arms and play with him

for a time. And during the Christmas season, as I spent a few days each week working outside the home, it was Isaac who took care of Victor with more love and expertise than I could probably find in most female babysitters. The two really are inseparable.

And the day after my birthday, it was Isaac who realized that no one had offered any words of affirmation to me and who came and said the sweetest things.

He's not perfect but

Go ahead, Ladies, start lining up now.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

No guilt

My mom makes the most amazing treat every Christmas - Peanut Butter Balls. Think of Buckeyes on steroids. These are round delicacies made of peanut butter and coated in chocolate, with a secret ingredient that makes them better than any other chocolate-peanut butter dessert you've ever eaten. And they don't have that annoying bare spot found on the Ohioans claim to fame. Pure delight.

They're a pain to make. I know because I've made them once or twice. So most years I just leave them to my mom. We know that when we arrive for Christmas, we'll find a few on the dessert tray. And when I say a few, I mean a few. Because my mom is very stingy with her peanut butter balls. She's allowed to be since she's done all of that work. Since retirement, my dad is her self-proclaimed (or forced?) co-laborer so together, they are afforded the luxury of carefully rationing the peanut butter balls. A few for Christmas day, a few to take out to my brother's house in Indiana, and very secretly, a few to send home with me.

I've come to think of the latter as mine and mine alone. I guess it's a right of inheritance? Or maybe a privilege for the one who daily labors to feed her children and who too often has to listen to complaints or pleas for substitutions to the day's menu. Yes, this, above all, demands that there be some type of compensation from children to mother. And since no one asked me what I wanted as compensation, I made the decision independent of general consensus.

Taking into account the rare but altogether possible view that I should not be the sole beneficiary of the peanut butter balls sent to our home, certain precautions needed to be taken. As we were taking leave on Christmas day, my mom pulled the precious container out of the freezer. We exchanged a knowing look and all I had to say was, "Veggie Meatballs" and she instinctively knew what I meant. With a few strokes of her Sharpie marker, the deed was done and the peanut butter balls hoarding tradition was passed down from mother to daughter. And the Veggie Mt. Balls label stared up at me every time I reached into the deep freeze because I didn't even need to bury it under lots of veggies. Just as it did every time one of my children reached into that same deep freeze.  Only I'm sure they didn't see it with the same delight as I.

And if you're wondering, No, I felt absolutely no guilt as I rationed and solitarily enjoyed my daily dose of peanut butter mixed with that secret ingredient and covered in chocolate. Well, I may have felt a teeny tiny bit of conscience so as the supply dwindled to near-zero, I did share one with each family member who was home today, confidently telling them that they could no longer say that I had never done anything for them.

As if that isn't enough to make me Mother-of-the-Year, I then promised to sacrifice and subject myself to the pain of making them a batch of peanut butter balls. Because I'm awesome like that.

Do you think they'll find the ice cream I've hidden in there?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

We have a parrot

I realized that it has been a long time since I've given a Mr. Victor update. So here is the official State of the Victor Address. Since we all know that I'm a political enthusiast.

Victor is now 21 months. I have to admit that 19 months was my favorite age, not because of anything Victor was or was not doing but because it gave me extreme satisfaction to tell people that I had a 19 year old and a 19 month old. But alas, all good things must come to an end. 21 months, here we are. It blows my mind to think that in 3 short months he will be 2. I do believe he already thinks he's 2.

He hasn't been to the pediatrician since his 18 month check up so no official stats. He did see the endocrinologist last week (you might remember that about 20% of the children with his visual condition, also have endocrine issues) and weighed 24 pounds there, for people who keep track of these kinds of things. Thankfully, once again the doctor pronounced him clear of any endocrine issues and this time we don't have to go back for 2 whole years. Interestingly, she did shine a light in both eyes (not her job, but maybe she was just interested), and noticed that he squinted and squirmed a lot when she shone it into his right eye, but made no response to the light in his left. Funny how she could learn more in one non-torture exam than the eye doctor in multiple tortuous sessions. Maybe we'll just start seeing the endocrinologist for ophthalmic diagnoses. Anyway, someday I'll tell you how I really feel about the pediatric ophthalmologist but for now we'll leave it at that.

Another vision related development is we are certain he can see something more than light (take that, Mr. Ophthalmologist!).  His favorite game these days is to take his bin of bean bags and randomly throw them all over the floor. When he can't find anymore in the box, he'll crawl to the ones he's already thrown, reaching right for them, not patting the ground to find them. You can take his cup and move it away from him, thinking you are hiding it, and he will grab right for it. He can't do it all the time, almost as if he needs to concentrate and work at it. Anyone remember when Heidi Baker prayed over him and said that his healing would be gradual? Yeah, me, too.

We still have therapists; speech, OT, and vision. Once the physical therapist saw him jumping on two feet and heard that he's climbing onto tables and up changing tables, she figured her time here was done. It's bittersweet to lose a new friend but to do so because of progress is a desirable thing indeed. And the speech therapist now only comes every three months, by mutual agreement. We were in agreement that Victor's speech, while delayed due to his lack of vision, was coming along and following the correct trajectory. Sure enough, just one month after she was last here, he has already made headway in all of her goals; to speak in 2 word phrases (his favorite being "more sing"), and to babble in play using both incoherent sounds and actual speech. She did not have singing on her list but singing, he is.

His current favorite songs are Old McDonald (he joins in on the E-I-E-I-Os), Apples and Bananas (he tries out all the words), and Peace, Peace - a Christmas song HopeAnne sings to him (he just repeats the title word over and over).

And most of all, he's become a little parrot. As I teach school, I often hear my words being repeated in the background. Ask him about it sometime, I'm sure he could give you an earful on Australia, desert animals, or long division.

This morning he fell and just barely missed hitting his head on a corner. I grabbed him and spontaneously said, 'Thank you, Jesus," and my little parrot, with a big smile on his face repeated, "Jesus!" I laughed and said, "Oh, Victor," and in his favorite growly voice (thank you, Isaac, for teaching him that one) copied, "Oh, Victor."

Oh, and the older kids taught him to beatbox. He's been beatboxing a good portion of the morning already. And his pants are falling down. We're in trouble.


At least it's a onesie sticking out, and not boxers.

So, those are all of our praises for our little Victorious Long Life of Faith in the One True King, otherwise known as Victor Noah King. How can you continue to pray for him?

Drool - not more, but less! Swallow, baby, swallow.

Temper tantrums - again, less, much less - He gets much more frustrated than any other child in this house ever did and it can't be managed in the usual ways. He will throw himself onto the floor and bang his head down hard or if standing, will throw his head back against the wall or the person holding him. We're trying to find ways to redirect but he's proving to be a toughie.

Health - He's had the usual toddler snotty nose. You know, take him to the church nursery on Sunday, get a cold on Tuesday, let it run its course and clear up by Saturday, and repeat. It's called building up an immune system. I'm an old mom, that's how we do things. There was one day when he sounded kind of wheezy to me so I called the pediatrician but they couldn't fit him in so they sent us to the ER where they sent us home with "just a virus." He also had the stomach bug a little over a week ago. He and Isaac had it the same day, no surprise there since they are inseparable. Thankfully, Victor's was a very mild case. So we ask for prayers for overall good health and that his immune system would fight off any attacks.

Eating - Victor eats large amounts (obviously) but has started to slow down, I assume because he's getting to an age where he isn't growing as fast and doesn't need all the calories. He isn't, however, a lover of a variety of foods. Can you say oatmeal, sandwiches, pizza, and yogurt? These are our stand-bys when he won't eat what has been offered. Fruits and vegetables are on his list of absolutely-not-going-to-touch-that foods. He's also not a fan of silverware and since using a spoon is his OT goal, well, let's just say I'm a little tired of the attempts and having Mr. Victor scream because I've tried to get him to hold that blasted spoon one more time. So, in a nutshell, we ask for less pickiness and more self-feeding.

Continued progress in speech, following verbal directions, and sight!

Thank you, all. What a blessing to know that Victor is covered by the prayers of so many friends and family members. He continues to amaze and glorify His Creator because he is victorious!

Monday, January 5, 2015

The bridges of two counties

This is the tale of two bridges.

The first was a bridge in Ohio, located on the campus of a very beautiful and friendly college. This bridge, named Krehbiel Bridge, had a long and prophetic history.

As the story goes, anyone who dared to kiss someone on this bridge was bound to get married to that person someday, as long as all of the right variables were in place...

It had to be full moon...

It had to be the couple's very first kiss...

It had to be at midnight...

And it had to be exactly in the center of that bridge...

We recently spent an evening in the same town as that bridge. Our kids begged us to take them to that spot.

"But you'll make fun of us."

"Yes, we will. Pleeeeeeeeasssssse... And make sure you tell us the whole story. Again."

"Okay, fine."

Once upon a time there was a couple. They had started dating about a month earlier. Keep in mind that this was before the Duggars so no one knew that they were supposed to wait until they were married for that first kiss, nor that they should have invited one of their younger siblings on this date. This couple attended the exact college where Krehbiel Bridge took center stage and they knew the legend.

So, at midnight, during full moon...

And this is the second bridge. This one is in Pennsylvania. And this one bears the results of that first kiss at midnight, during full moon, in the exact center of Krehbiel Bridge.

Maybe we should have taken a chaperone with us?

But why, you ask, does the sign above the first bridge in our tale say Adams?

Because some dodo along the way didn't know the magic of Krehbiel Bridge, likely donated tons of money for the renovation of said bridge, and got it renamed in his honor.

Or maybe Adams did know the legend behind the bridge because maybe he was the very first person to kiss his girlfriend on this bridge for the first time at midnight during full moon?

Or maybe Adams got stuck marrying someone due to the dumb legend, was miserable his whole life, and vowed to break the spell that brought him such sorrow?

It's a good thing we got there before all that.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

O-H-I-O

A King family Christmas would not be complete without making the trip to Ohio to visit with all of the Kings (and when I say all, I mean all). This particular tradition involves lots of photos, laughter, football, and food.

Speaking of football, for those who don't care as much about the Ohio - Alabama game as I do, let me tell you that Ohio was ahead by 2 touchdowns until the last 17 seconds when Alabama (or Arizona, depending on which TV you were watching) made a last minute touchdown but all is okay because Ohio still won. I know, because this is how it ended both times I watched it.

Many, many thanks to Aunt Marilyn and Uncle Doug for not only opening their home to 40+ people but for also volunteering to provide food for all involved. At least that's the story that I was given; that you volunteered. Personally, I think you were volunteered because no one is that crazy but either way, we can never thank you enough since I'm quite certain that besides no one going home hungry, we're all so stuffed that we've started 30-day cleanses today.

So there's the photo of the first cousins (give or take one or two).

And then plenty of Minute to Win It games.












Sibling reindeer would be fun, right?


And finally, why not recreate some of the photos from the past?
circa 2006
Christmas 2014
circa 2000
Christmas 2014
circa 1995
Christmas 2014

We somehow came home without a copy of the original to the best photo, one of the 6 siblings in a pyramid. I take full responsibility so unless someone can supply us with that photo, we'll just have to wait til next Christmas to see that comparison.

Stay classy, West Liberty... Till next time...