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, August 26, 2015

Called

I've been thinking a lot about calling lately because sometimes living out your calling is really, really hard. And that's okay.

And that's what I've been thinking about.

When I read a book, I want a story about a character who does something, who accomplishes something, or makes a difference. But that story would not be very exciting if it didn't involve chaos, struggle, and the unknown. And the protagonist would not mature or change if he or she did not have to go through the struggle.

The same is true of our calling. It gives us purpose and it's how we make a difference in this world. But it always involves something beyond ourselves, something that forces us to lean on the One who called us. And when we step back and take a look, we can see that something new was born in us as well, an internal change that is necessary for the next steps we are called to take.

The fight was hard. The struggle was intense and the wait seemed long. It's still hard. But God does not waste the wait or the fight or the struggle.

A good friend suggested we find a project for the wait to show that we were fighting hard. We took pictures along the way and sent them along so she could see the progress and know we were working to bring her home.

Since blue and flowers are favorites, we incorporated both, drawing our own flowered designs on some of the patches.

And then the mountains moved even before we expected and she was here before the project was finished but no one was complaining.

In the end, the project was just as much for us as it was for her. A little bit of ourselves to welcome a new family member, to show we cared, to say, "You matter."

But something else was very close to my heart during this process, a reminder that was right there always threatening to bubble over in emotion and that was this: What about the ones who have no one to fight for them? So many hurting people in our world. A few have someone to care, someone to fight for them. But how many others do not? But if we each lived out our calling, would there be someone to fight for each of the others? I think so because it matters to this one, and that one, that one, and each and every one.

For whom are you called to fight? To be a voice? To make a difference?


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

We've been busy

Thanks to my faithful reading audience, I am often alerted to the fact that I have not posted in a few days or, as is the current case, "quite some time." This was gracefully revealed to me this past Sunday at which time I vowed to go home and immediately post. It didn't happen. I have another caring friend who will even go as far as to tell me the exact date of my last post. It was Aug. 11, 2015 for those who weren't paying attention.

I have several excuses.

We sent a child back to college.

We sent another off to his freshman year.

We were getting a bunch of kids ready for high school, and another ready for 5th grade.

I was working on lesson plans for a 3rd grader.

I was being bossed around by a very angry, very verbal, very tantrum-driven visually impaired 2 year old.

That should be excuse enough but if you need one more....

Oh yeah, we added another family member.

But you're right. None of these excuses should have kept me from my computer so here's more of what we've been up to.

Eden and HopeAnne chose well for their summer project this year, as least in my book. They each chose sewing and I was happy to jump into this project with them.

First we did some crafts learning to hand sew buttons and seams.

Then the girls made pillows.

And pillow cases.

And finally, skirts from thrift shop shirts.


My little fashionista decided to make a shrug from the left-over part of the shirt. Not bad.




We had planned on one more project, pillowcase dresses for Dress a Girl Around the World but time ran away from us. We may still try to complete a few dresses this week but it may have to wait for another time.

Oh, and I was able to squeeze in one more Quilt of Many Textures for someone who wanted to give it to a friend who just found out her child is visually impaired.

All in a day's (or summer's) work.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

David danced, Moses freed

Don't judge me, but one of my favorite scenes from a movie occurred in Footloose (you knew it would be Footloose, didn't you?), when Ren addressed the town council, attempting to convince them to allow a high school dance.

Ren: [addressing the town council, reading from his notes in the Bible] "From the oldest of times, people danced for a number of reasons. They danced in prayer... or so that their crops would be plentiful... or so their hunt would be good. And they danced to stay physically fit... and show their community spirit. And they danced to celebrate." And that is the dancing we're talking about. Aren't we told in Psalm 149 "Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song. Let them praise His name in the dance"? And it was King David - King David, who we read about in Samuel - and what did David do? What did David do?
[paging frantically through Bible]
Ren: What *did* David do?
[audience laughs]
Ren: "David danced before the Lord with all his might... leaping and dancing before the Lord."
[smacks table in front of Reverend Moore]
Ren: *Leaping* and *dancing*.
[stands up straight]
Ren: Ecclesiastes assures us... that there is a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to laugh... and a time to weep. A time to mourn... and there is a time to dance. And there was a time for this law, but not anymore. See, this is our time to dance. It is our way of celebrating life. It's the way it was in the beginning. It's the way it's always been. It's the way it should be now.


Brilliant. He knew his audience. He spoke their language. He was so passive aggressive. Ya gotta love it.

I'm pretty certain that if there is ever a sequel, we will see a much older Kevin Bacon addressing the jury, just as eloquent, always speaking to his audience, verbalizing with words they understand. Because I'm sure he grew up to be a lawyer.

After this weekend of research and note taking and expert finding, I'm pretty certain I missed my calling and I, too, was supposed to be a lawyer. I've done my research and we're ready.

Can't you hear it now:

Cindy: [addressing the group] And what did Moses do? What did Moses do? What *did* Moses do?

[group laughs]

Cindy: Moses said, "Let my people go."

Yeah, something like that.

If you think about us today, we ask for your prayers. We ask for favor, divine favor. We ask that light and love and forgiveness would ooze from our being. We ask for the wisdom of Solomon. We ask that chains would be broken and mountains would be moved.

And we ask for the right words at the right time, in language our audience will understand.

And what did Daniel do? What did Daniel do? What *did* Daniel do?

Daniel prayed.

Because it matters to this one.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Here comes Victor

A recent conversation in our house:

Eden: Victor, say the magic word. (pause, no answer) What's the magic word?
Victor: Use your cane.

We may have created a little cane using monster.

So we should be receiving orientation and mobility training. We're on a waiting list and should get a call this summer. As in this summer. The one that is mostly over (sorry, kids). It's a governmental agency. No other explanation necessary, right?

That is why I took matters into my own hands. I found an excellent book, Independent Movement and Travel in Blind Children by Joseph Cutter. I read it. I highly recommend it...if you happen to be the parent of a visually impaired child who is waiting on bureaucracy to teach your child to walk independently.

And now Victor uses his cane daily at home. We've taken it out on occasion as well but we need to warn people to protect their head and their crotch. That whole, "Keep it on the ground, Victor!" thing seems a little hard to grasp. If you do see him with his cane, he will likely be looking for "piggies" and if he finds your toes, look out, success usually comes with one final pound to the toes.

 And yes, I am well aware that this is not the proper way to hold a cane. It doesn't have to be. He's 2. That's what the book said, anyway. The author argues (against many other experts in his field) against waiting until the child is old enough to hold it properly. His philosophy is that a child needs to learn independence as early as possible and to begin to understand both the auditory and textual clues he will learn from the tapping of the cane. And we all know Victor is good at tapping. I mean, banging.

We also teach functionality and resourcefulness. If you can't find your cane, you just use whatever else is around. Kitchen utensils, Tack strips that lose their stickiness and fall off the wall, etc.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

*Hacked* Why My Parents are my Heroes

Hello Dear Blog world,

My name is Mariana and I happen to be the 3rd child sprouting up in this Funny Farm. I felt inspired to hack into my mom's blog and express something that has been building up inside for awhile now.

Due to the fact that my mother doesn't know I am posting this, there may be serious spelling/grammatical errors that won't be corrected.

Why My Parents Are My Heroes:

My parents laid down their sign and got their hands dirty.

I recall a not-so-long-ago time when my mom and dad decided to venture into the unknown world of serious premature care for a baby born at 25 weeks gestation (a fetus some might say). They decided to take a leap of faith and pursue the crazy decision to love this child, even if it meant sacrificing so much, as my mom left for 11 weeks to live with him in Utah.

That was crazy.

I remember when my brother came to live with us after experiencing one of the hardest situations a child can endure (losing his biological mother). My parents knew that taking an "older child" was going to be hard. They knew perfectly well that it was not going to be easy but they chose to take a leap of faith and love my brother and give him the same opportunities that every child deserves.

That was also crazy.

I barely remember when my youngest sister came into our family. I was 8 or 9 I believe... but I remember my dad holding her. Having this girl come into a family where she had the opportunity to have a loving father who would ask:
 "*insert sister's name* Why are you special?"
and then her three year old reply would be:
 "Because I'm adopted!"

Adoption and orphan care has dramatically changed my family.

As my parents, even now, continue the fight to help protect and be the voice for those who don't have one, I am just amazed by how crazy they are. But dear Church, dear people, dear Americans, why aren't we all crazy?

In light of the media craze over abortion, and these horrifying videos of babies in a mess in a petri dish, so many people (including myself) have found it easy to speak out against it! Of course that seems the best thing to do... but you know what amazes me?

My parents...

Through all of this they aren't speaking out in words, they are speaking out in actions.

They are fighting!

No one can say that all "Pro-Life"ers don't care about the mother and the baby. My Parents have done the crazy thing and supported these mothers, they have loved them, they have thanked them, they have financially supported them, and prayed for them. They keep fighting. Even Today.

My parents are my Heroes.

Actions speak louder than words and they are SO LOUD.

I encourage anyone who wants to speak out about anything they consider an injustice to follow in my parents' example. They teach us (as kids) to help the oppressed and are leading by example.

My parents are my Heroes.

Please pray for our family as we continue to fight together for the care of orphans.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Good cop/good kid

As a transracial family, we are aware that there are some topics and issues which some of our children will face that The Good Doctor and I have never had to face. I often turn to blogs and Facebook groups to help us navigate this world in which we find ourselves. Unfortunately, too many of these sources write from a place of bitterness, unforgiveness, and hatred. While we can certainly understand these feelings, I know for certain that no one can live a very fulfilling life when a person's life comes from those roots. We are thankful for friends and biological family members that can speak candidly with our children, sharing from their own experiences. We are also thankful that these friends and relatives can speak from a place of peace, joy, and contentment, despite the injustice and racism that they have experienced.

In the midst of posts and news reports of hatred and racism, I think it's important that we share positive experiences of acceptance, love, and community between races.

We live in a fairly white community. Our 14 year old son, from Kenya, had an interesting experience recently that not only renewed my feelings of trust in our local police department but also serves as an excellent example that even though the news may be mostly negative, when it comes down to it, the world really is filled with people of good intention and acceptance. It needs to be shared to remind us all that we can find good around us. And each of us needs to be reminded to treat others as we would want to be treated.

Shoun was riding his bike home from work last week and was startled to find himself being motioned over by a police officer parked on the side of the road in front of him. He lives a fairly sheltered life in our home, community, church, and schools and has so far been immune to racism. But we've talked about it, and older friends and relatives have told him their stories. He was so scared that he was still visibly shaking when he arrived home soon after.

Imagine his surprise when the officer, who is white, merely applauded him for wearing his bike helmet when legally Shoun did not need to do so at his age. The officer took down Shoun's address with the promise that he would return at some point to treat Shoun to Italian Ice at a local shop. Though shaken, Shoun relayed this story with a huge smile from ear to ear. Not only did the police officer keep his promise, but the owner of the shop provided coupons for the treat. And every time we ask Shoun to share his story with someone else, the smile comes back, even bigger than before.

I don't know if that police officer has any idea the impression he made on Shoun and on our whole family. He did something that he didn't have to do for a teen-ager, a teen-ager who fits the profile that on the news is too often at odds with the police. This officer went above and beyond in a simple yet profound statement of acceptance and community.

And since wearing a helmet is an argument we've had more than once in the four years Shoun has lived here, well, let's just say it was a win in the reinforcing parental values category, too.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The most expensive dinner/weekend ever


The following is based on actual events. Names have been changed and any likeness to real people or places is merely coincidental.


This is the tale of The Most Expensive Dinner Ever that turned into The Most Expensive Weekend Ever.

It started off just like any weekend should when you are heading to Kentucky to see your son win a Student Production Award. The babysitter arrived at 4:30 in the morning and we were on the road by 5:00. We did have a slight complication the day before when we realized that the best-running car in the King collection needed new brakes so we would have to go with Choice #2. But at least we didn’t have to take the King Bus.

We were enjoying the conversation with our New York City-traipsing eldest when, with only an hour and a half to go, we heard a noise, something seemed to be lodged in the right brake for a brief moment, and then the noise stopped. We briefly discussed the situation, all three of us deciding that it was no more than a branch that had been caught under the car, and continued our conversation.

And then The Good Doctor announced, “Battery light is on.” Then, “I’m overheating.” (He meant the car was overheating but within moments I’m sure he was starting to do the same.) Soon after, “All the lights are lighting up here.”

I’ve made this trek to Kentucky before. I know that there are miles and miles of nothingness with nary an exit in sight. There was that time Andrew and I were driving to college and the car needed gas. When we finally did locate a gas station (according to the GPS), we got off the exit and drove 5 miles before finding out that the gas station had closed years before and was already overgrown with brush.

But that was not our fate this time. Olive Hill was just around the corner and up the hill (obviously). By this time driving without power steering, we drove into the first  gas station where we found it was, indeed, no longer in operation (seemingly a common occurrence in Kentucky where presumably fewer and fewer people are needing gas for their vehicles?) but just up the hill a little farther there was a bp.

We pulled in with high hopes that lifting the lid and pouring a little of this here and a little of that there we’d soon be on our way, and a bathroom break for the humans for good measure. No problem. This is why we left at 5AM. We have a few hours to spare.


But The Good Doctor, pastor extraordinaire-turned car mechanic wanna-be, lifted the hood, ran a King’s Diagnostics Test and declared, “We’re gonna need a rental.”

Without smart phones, in the middle of Nowhere, Kentucky, at the only gas station without indoor plumbing, a knowledgeable attendant, or wifi.

Andrew taking over the typing: The attendant wasn’t the most friendly, either. The conversation went something like this.

Us: Excuse me, what exit are we on?

Attendant: I don’t know.

Us: We just need to know to tell the towing company.

Attendant: I don’t know.

Us: There is a major US highway that direction right?

Attendant: Yes.

Us: You get a lot of visitors driving through?

Attendant: Yes.

Us: What exit do they get off of to get here?

Attendant: I don’t know.

Us: Did you watch the baseball game last night?

Attendant: Yes.

Us: Who’s on First?

Attendant: I don’t know.

Us: Third base.


At that point, Dad and I went inside to check for rental and tow truck info. We got a bunch of numbers, went outside and began calling every Enterprise and Rent-A-Car in the area (including U-Haul, we were desperate). You know those Enterprise commercials that say “Pick Enterprise, we’ll pick you up,”? They should be replaced with the line “We’ll pick you up, unless you are in Olive Hill, Kentucky on a Saturday afternoon, then you’re on your own and you better remember where your friends in Kentucky live, if you even have friends in Kentucky.”

Fortunately, I have friends in Kentucky. Unfortunately I didn’t remember where they live. I started by calling famous celebrities in Kentucky, but J-Law was filming something in LA, William Shatner was out on a horseback ride, Josh Hutchinson was trying to grow taller and Johnny Depp was getting into character for his next Tim Burton role. With all the celebrities busy, I started calling as many KY Asbury students as I knew. I played phone tag for a while, calling Kentucky friend after Kentucky friend who couldn’t help but could point me to other Kentucky friends.

Me again: I prayed. God, let us get there in time for the red carpet. That’s all that matters here. In the meantime, send us a miracle that will get us there.


Spotting these men on horses coming down from the olive-less hills, I thought our miracle had arrived. Maybe we could start a new tradition of nominees arriving at the Emmys in and on unique transportation devices. At the least, we could be the subject of someone’s winning entry for next year. But alas, they bought their cigarettes and left. Without us.


About this time it was a toss up as to which one of us would take up smoking ourselves and use the conveniently placed gas station ash tray. Since we were in KY though, we took up dip instead.


It was time to start considering how I was going to look unshowered, with baseball cap, and fancy schmancy dress.

The miracle showed up in an Escape driven by the very handsome, winsome, chivalrous, courteous, muscular, Dwayne Johnson look-alike, film connoisseur we’ll call simply, “Coop”. Because that was his name.

About this time we received a text from the babysitter who had braved Chocolate World with one world class runner, one rule follower, and one very difficult yet adorable visually impaired blind child. It seems as if she had misplaced her keys and was wandering around the Hershey parking lot with formerly named crew in tow. Yeah, it was one of those days.

Coop ushered us into his Miracle Mobile and provided lively and entertaining conversation as he drove us the hour and a half where we could pick up our rental at the Lexington airport, the only place where we could find an Enterprise in all of Kentucky that does operate on a daily schedule, even on Saturdays.

(The Good Doctor assures me that we will call AAA and get signed up first thing in the morning.)

With all of our belongings now transferred into the very modern rental car (It doesn’t have a key. Who knew such a thing even existed?), and Coop sent on his way with a gift of gratitude for his services and the promise of a flowery recommendation if he should ever consider chauffeuring as a career, we were all set to head to our hotel to shower and change.

Except it was too far away and not enough time remained if we wanted to make it to what the email described as “the red carpet experience.”

So we found a McDonald’s. We entered as three disheveled, unshowered, weary travelers. We exited as three disheveled, unshowered, weary yet dressed up travelers.



We got that red carpet experience.

We also found ourselves at the most expensive meal ever. Minus air conditioning.

We should have eaten in the rental car.

But hey, we were here. We were dressed up. I even found a dress that cost me nothing. Well, actually it did cost me something when I bought it for my daughter’s prom but since she found it cheap on ebay and since we never thought it’d be worn more than once, well, I guess you could say it didn’t cost me anything. Except for a tow, car repairs, a rental…You get the picture.

We hobnobbed with the elite. Andrew got a lot of feedback from professionals in the field. He even discussed a possible internship with a professional but after asking for the man’s card, realized that he had applied for said internship and was turned down. That’s okay. Andrew’s now in New York. This guy’s still in Kentucky.



He got his award. He thanked his parents – because they were in attendance. And Coop.




We were proud. Very proud.

And we even got to hear a speech by Nick Clooney (yes, father of George) who was inducted into the Gold Circle of the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.



For the record, Andrew would like it to be known that he did suggest we leave a day early. “Just in case we have car trouble or something like that.”

A good time was had by all.