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!

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 in 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.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October 14

My grandfather died October 14, 1992.

My second son was born October 14, 1996.

My grandfather did not live long enough to meet any of his great grandchildren. Just being in an enclosed area with his children and grandchildren caused him to turn his hearing aids down. I know that my household would elicit the same response from him

But if he and Jesse had been able to find a quiet space to chat, I think they would have found some common interests. Most notably, teaching and ministry.

Today, I have another adult living under my roof.

I no longer have to accompany him to medical appointments. I don't have to co-sign or sign his documents.

Like his older brother before him, this young man is ready for adulthood. He has proven himself well.

I look forward to the next chapter in our relationship.

Happy birthday, Jesse!

Monday, October 13, 2014

18 months later

18 months later...God is faithful - 

Be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. (Deuteronomy 6:12)

Be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who matched you with a precious baby boy and who continues to write your story.

So let's not forget...
Entering the world 15 weeks early weighing 1 lb. 13 oz. and prognosis unknown, the family his birthmother had chosen for him decided the risks were too high. A week later and an email that started with, "I know this is a longshot but..." and our lives were forever changed. Proof that in the waiting game of adoption, God does not allow us to miss the right child, nor does He allow us to say yes to the wrong one. Victor Noah has done more than prove the value of his name. At 6 months the ophthalmologist told us that Victor was completely and permanently blind. At 18 months we know he can see light and objects to some degree; there is definite and miraculous improvement since that initial diagnosis. Once again, victorious. We have a beautiful birth mother who loves this boy dearly as well, sending us pictures and updates just as we do for her. Just another reminder that God writes beautiful stories that we could never imagine. He's writing yours, too!

As always, it's a bit difficult to photograph a child who is blind. Things you don't think about until you live it. So why not have some fun with those 18 month photos and allow Victor to speak his mind.

Pictures? Of me? What are pictures? I'm so confused.
Look up? Why do I have to look up?
What does that even mean? Look up?
Ohhhhhhhhh, I get it now. Look up.
Have I told you about the time that I... 
How 'bout this? This is cute? Right?
Could we please be done soon?
Mom, we all know I'm cute. Do you really need all these pictures?
Okay, that's a wrap, people!
You are not listening to me. Why are you not listening to me?
Oh, goody! A prop!
A prop that doubles as a snack...
...and a juice box.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Mascots have parents, too

I grew up going to Phillies games. A lot. The part I hated the most was having to take a nap the afternoon prior to the evening game. Long after I was too old for naps, I had to go to my room "just for a little rest" so that I could stay up for the game. Yeah, I think I usually fell asleep during those "rests." I also disliked having to dress up to go to the games. Did people really do that way back when or was that just my family? I don't know but I didn't like it.

I also wasn't really into the games. I always had a book with me, though, and it was a great place to finish a story or two. Until that time a foul ball hit the empty sit right next to me. That was a wake up call. I learned to keep one eye on the game and one eye on the book after that too-close-for-comfort incident.

I did have a favorite player but only because my brother had one. And because he picked Mike Schmidt, I had to pick Greg Luzinski. Surprisingly, I knew a lot about my favorite player. I knew he wasn't as good as my brother's favorite player, but I was pretty used to that kind of second place feeling. I liked The Bull all the way until my dad just happened upon him in an airport once. In response to, "You're my daughter's favorite player," he just grunted and walked away. Fan no more.

So when the Phillie Phanatic was created (born?) in the late 70s, I ditched that whole favorite player thing and turned my ballgame attention to the big green mascot who got cool things like four wheelers for his birthday. Later, the Phanatic's mother appeared on the scene, looking equally green and being just as fun to watch.

Who knew that 30+ years later I'd find myself sitting at football games, again with eyes only for the mascot (but with my book at home). This mascot couldn't stick out his tongue, is not known for wiggling his butt at the opponent, and did not receive a four wheeler for his birthday even though his birthday did fall on the night of a game and he did ask for said gift.

It was during one of those football games probably three years ago, as I was watching the mascot and daydreaming during the rest of the game, that I got a great idea. Better than great, it was probably the best idea I've ever had. Just as the Phanatic has a mother, and just as she shows up during special occasions, wouldn't it be fun for King Kat's mother to show up on a special occasion? And his father, too? And wouldn't it be great if it just happened to be senior recognition night? And wouldn't it be even better if it was a total surprise for the Wildcat?

I shared the idea with the rest of the family and we all kept it a secret, waiting til the mascot became a senior and this year it happened. We asked the cheerleading coach if we could borrow the two old costumes. We told her that we would like to wear them, add a dress to mine and a suit coat to The Good Doctor's (we knew we could likely borrow the set that the homecoming mascots wore), and surprise King Kat when it was our turn to escort him during senior recognition.  She loved the idea but had to ask the higher-ups.

Now, just as I have preserved the identity of King Kat in this blog, I am going to preserve the identity of the high school's assistant athletic director who apparently has never seen the Phillie Phanatic with his Phanatic mother, who seemingly has little understanding of school spirit, possibly has little creative ability, and who has no idea that most of the fans at the high school's football games do not come for the game, but rather, like me, to see the antics of the mascot.

Since we only know that he refused the request, and we do not know his reasons, we can only surmise. Being married to a counselor, I've gotten pretty good at figuring out the psychological reasons behind someone's actions so I have a feeling that the unnamed assistant athletic director must have had some type of childhood trauma with a mascot. It happens. King Kat has had to learn to navigate the world of children who cry or scream when he approaches. Birthday clowns deal with this all the time. It would be understandable, then, that if not one, not two, but three Wildcats showed up next week, it could take a person such as this over the edge. It's okay, Mr. Assistant Athletic Director, we understand. If this is the problem, there is no need to be embarrassed and I'm certain The Good Doctor could refer you to someone able to deal with that type of phobia. In fact, if you set up an appointment for Monday, you might be able to get over this phobia by next Friday and we could still keep the persona of the King Kat safe. He could still have King Kat parents rather than human ones. Just like the Phillie Phantatic doesn't have human parents (duh!), King Kat could be introduced with his kind.

Or, it is possible that the unnamed assistant athletic director tried creativity once upon a time. Emphasis on once. And it is possible that it was a traumatic experience. It is possible that somewhere in elementary school, before he became the high school jock, he had an interest in writing. He was assigned a story and he wrote that story, going well past the 1-2 pages assigned and instead created to his heart's content, finally turning in 4 glorious pages of creativity. But alas, the teacher returned that paper with more red marks than the original pencil marks used to pen the tale. His creativity was shot down. Subconsciously he vowed never to allow a creative idea to pass his mind, or athletic director's desk, again. Instead, he would turn to athletics where the game plan is straight forward and creativity is non-existant. He would create a world around him void of creativity and he would, one day, attain a position of importance where he could squash any and all attempts at creativity that were brought to his attention. It's okay. There's healing for that type of wounding, too. The Good Doctor just happens to also be a pastor as well as a counselor.

But that's all supposition and we certainly don't want to start rumors about the unnamed assistant athletic director so please do not go around telling people that he has a mascot phobia or elementary school traumas. That would be unwise and premature and that is between the unnamed assistant director and his healer of choice, protected by HIPAA and never to be known by Wildcats the world over.

Instead, I ask you to use your imagination next week. Conjure up all the school spirit you have so that when King Kat is announced, you can see three Wildcats in the place of one Wildcat and two humans who just happened to claim it as their child.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Round 2

My morning started out with a text from my oldest: 10 years and 1 day ago I was celebrating Eden's birth in an ER. Guess where I decided to celebrate today?

Actually, my morning started out with birthday donuts at 6:45 AM along with 2 very grumpy teenagers. One was more grumpy than the other but I had to remind them that they had been given the choice of whether to wake that early so we could all enjoy the tradition together or wake up later, meaning that Shoun would have to miss out since he was the only one with school in session today. They made the right choice but were definitely second-guessing that choice when the wake up call was a loud, over-excited, you-made-me-wait-a-day-to-celebrate-my-birthday, camp song.

The text came an hour later. My response was that he'd better explain. Fast.

Turns out he wasn't the reason he was in the ER but instead was just fulfilling his RA duties. But 10 years and 1 day ago, he was the reason...

This is one of my favorite pictures from Eden's birth story. When we called my parents to tell them that "the baby" had been born (we were really mean and made them wait til they showed up to find out if it was a girl or boy), their response was, Well, um, we were wondering, does your hospital have an ER?

Andrew had been at a birthday party and was playing dodgeball. His aggressive play caused him to fall backward and land on his elbow. He continued playing so the birthday boy's mom didn't think too much of it until later when Andrew started mentioning that it really hurt. She felt awful and called my parents to pick him up. We should have paid more attention because this was clearly a forewarning into Andrew's future with dodgeball.

John and my dad spent the next few hours going between the ER and maternity. By the time Andrew was discharged from the ER, it was after visiting hours but a very nice nurse who realized that Andrew's tears were not from the physical pain of a broken arm but were instead due to the emotional pain of not getting to see his new sister, agreed to let him in for a quick visit.

10 years and 1 day later we're celebrating Eden's birth and I guess we're also celebrating the fact that it's been 10 years and 1 day and counting since Andrew himself has been a patient in the ER.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Oct. birthday #1

It's that time of year again. Numerous trips to the grocery store for special family meals, packages arriving in the mail on a regular basis, secrets being whispered behind hands, and higher energy levels.

Don't worry, you still have 76 days til Christmas. What I'm talking about is birthday month. Between my family or origin, John's family of origin, and our current family, we have

2 on Oct. 9
1 on the 12th
1 on the 14th
1 on the 27th
1 on the 30th and
1 on the 31st

To solve the 2 on the 9th problem, we decided a few years ago to celebrate one birthday child on the 9th and the other on the 10th, flip-flopping the order of who gets to celebrate first.

But that means 2 mornings of birthday donuts, and 2 birthday dinners of the child's choosing (ie. vegetables are usually not invited), 1 birthday snack for the child who actually attends a real school and whose school hasn't been totally invaded by the party poopers who think you can actually celebrate a child's birthday with celery sticks and hummus) and 2 birthday desserts, all to be consumed between 6:45 this morning and 7PM tomorrow evening. Grocery shopping alone gave me a sugar coma. Then I had to actually prepare the food.  Now I know how my mom felt when she had to do the same for my brother on the 27th and then for me on the 30th. No wonder she requested no sugar for her birthday on the 31st.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think any of the children are complaining. Well, there was one, who along with me has been on a journey of better health. We'll make do.

So today the object of our celebrations is Shoun, 14 years old.  Since his bus is the first to leave in the morning, he should feel very special just by the fact that everyone got up on his schedule to enjoy a donut with him.  Well, to enjoy what was left of the donut after it had been speared by 14 candles.

Here's to another year of growing, maturing, learning, and loving.

And Jesus grew in wisdom, and stature, and in favor with God and men. Luke 2:52