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 with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Beatles go to school

This guy was ready for his first day -
and it was FINALLY here!

I was a little concerned when he told me that Johnny Cash was coming along to pretty school with us this morning. And then the Beatles joined us, too. You never know which way these things are going to go. Bringing a few dead guys and live celebrities could be a distraction or it could be a positive experience. Nothing to do but wait and see since telling him that his favorite performers had to stay home would definitely not have ended well.

We pulled into our parking place and I unbuckled him from his seat. Then came the mass exodus as first Paul, then Ringo, John, George, and finally Johnny jumped out after Victor.

The transition went great. We were still all the way at the other end of the parking lot when I told him I thought I saw Ms. Sally (TVI) standing by the front door.

"MS. SALLY, I BROUGHT THE BEATLES!"

"Victor, I don't think she can hear you. We are too far away."

"MS. SALLY, I BROUGHT THE BEATLES!"

"Victor, I think we're still too far away. Wait until we get closer."

"MS. SALLY, I BROUGHT THE BEATLES!"

This time she heard his voice and waved to acknowledge us. She was still too far to hear what he said.

Finally, we were within range, "MS. SALLY, I BROUGHT THE BEATLES!"

"You did?"

"Yeah but they have colds."

"Oh, so they won't be singing for us today?"

"No, they have colds and they don't want you to get their germs."

"Oh, I like that."

"Yeah."

And the end of day report? He did great! He played with friends for an hour, didn't have any potty accidents, accepted correction well when banging, and sat (backwards - but he was sitting) with the group at circle time.

Victor says one of the Beatles had a little trouble at pretty school and had to go to the office but he came back. So all in all, I think it was a win of a first day!


Monday, September 4, 2017

Extended family

When of the greatest joys and blessings of my life is having a very large extended family. Growing up, every Friday night was spent at my maternal grandmother's house with aunts, uncles, and many cousins. We were often at my paternal grandparent's house as well, being entertained by an aunt and uncle just a dozen or so years older as well as the usual assortment of aunts, uncles, and cousins.

As an adult, this means an on-going number of weddings, babies, and other life-event celebrations.

This long Labor Day weekend brought my mom's family together for a wedding of one of my cousins and the annual Labor Day camp-out with my dad's family. And now it's not just aunts, uncles, and cousins, but also the children of all of those cousins. I think that my children often don't know the difference between their first cousins and second cousins. Sometimes they see their second cousins more often than their first!

I think that the highlight of Friday night's wedding was that my 96 year old great-grandmother could be there, front and center.




Cara's country, casual, and cowboy boot themed wedding was the perfect place
to wear the dress the Good Doctor deemed "loud". It was originally intended 
for Andrew's graduation but that day was too cold for sleeveless and sandals.



And onto Labor Day with all of its Bauman traditions and new memories. We missed some members, and enjoyed a surprise visit from Lalan and Daya, first time Labor Day campout attendees, and Uncle Leon introduced us to Char for the first time. 

We bridged the ASL/voice gap and played games together and figured out how to put up the tents. And I can vouch for their work as it did not fall down on us in the middle of the night. Of course, once I sent Aunt Ellen in to supervise, I knew we'd be fine.


Teaching Farkle to the next generation, always played
better with a few good bottles of homemade Root Beer.

Nostalgic singing around the campfire by Uncle Leon.

We helped Kirsten find the bottom of her ground cherry pile and answered the weekend's most popular questions, "What are those?" and "What are you going to do with them?"


Coloring for those who needed some therapy.


And of course, the weekend wouldn't be complete without transforming Uncle Carl's man cave into a quilting bee. Another comforter ready to be bound and sent to Mennonite Central Committee.





Sunday, August 27, 2017

Flying the nest

During our trip to Kentucky, Jesse asked me how I was feeling about Andrew moving to Kentucky. Not just for college, but for real. My response was quick, "As long as my children are doing what God created them to do, I am happy. I am excited for Andrew and his job with the Governor, doing what he loves to do."

I still agree with that answer but as I've had time to think about it, I'd word it a bit differently. So, to Andrew and all of the King kids, here is my final answer, "As long as you are pursuing your first love, I am happy for you. Because as long as I am pursuing my first love, I can place you in His capable arms. I can be excited instead of worried. I can feel joy instead of possessiveness. I should not be your first love and you should not be mine, so why would I need you to stay close? Why would I want you to stay close? Live for God and for others and I will be here cheering you on, praying for you, and encouraging you, whether close or far. Of course I will miss you but it will make your calls and texts and messages especially meaningful. And hearing your excitement for what you do will give me great joy. I've watched you find your gifts and passions, and steered you in learning opportunities so you could pursue those gifts further. Now you're using them for real. This is what this thing called parenting is all about and I thank God for the privilege of guiding you to this place."


Saturday, August 26, 2017

My two sons

Yes, I am well aware of the fact that I have more than two sons. But for 3 wonderful days, spending more than 18 hours driving, it was just me and my two sons. For 3 days I could forget that there was chaos and stress and rejection at home. For 3 days I could suppress the reality of what I would return to: dishes in the sink, chores not done, attitudes, and the hard work of parenting. For 3 days I could bask in the joy of two grown men who I used to hold in my arms and wonder about their futures. Because for 3 days, we drove to and from Kentucky while helping Andrew move into his first apartment.

They no longer look like this. The hair is shorter. They've cut off the curls. They no longer aspire to be super heroes (or do they?). But they each still have a great sense of humor. And we enjoyed time and conversation together.

They made fun of my commitment to rules.

No more than 5 miles over the speed limit, boys.
But Mom, we just got passed by a lady with a covering!
I don't care. I refuse to get my first-ever speeding ticket just because I was trying to follow you.

They are responsible, polite, caring, and helpful. They love the Lord and they love their mother. And aren't afraid to say it.  They even thanked me.

We toured Andrew's new office building, the Kentucky Capitol, and saw his office and desk. We met his co-workers who all affirmed what we already knew, I have a great son who just finished an internship with the Governor and who was then offered a full-time job. Andrew even let me take a photo of him with his office door. I'm a mom. I'm supposed to embarrass my children.

We ate meat at a Brazilian Steakhouse thanks to Andrew's former job and his former boss who offered him one last chance to use his employee discount. And while the boys were reveling in unlimited, tasty cuts of meat, I cornered them with a talk about marriage. Once they got over their shock and embarrassment, they were polite listeners and humored me doing my Mom duty.

We spent time in Ollie's and Wal-mart, getting all of those important first apartment items. My boys didn't let me down, never missing an opportunity to rearrange the merchandise. Shopping with them is always a treat.

We left Andrew early this morning with a fridge stocked with the most important items, and an apartment well on its way to becoming a comfortable first home and bachelor pad.

On the way home, Jesse carried out his self-proclaimed most important task, he forced me to eat my very first meal from Taco Bell.

And after arriving home, while getting to work on that sink full of dishes, I thanked the Lord for three wonderful days with two godly young men.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Victor-isms...oh joy!

Victor had to have blood drawn and he had to fast before-hand. Afterward he was a little woozy and not himself so the nurses gave him apple juice and I suggested a Panera bagel. Victor's response? "Oh, I'm so excited I'm wagging my tail!"
********************
And....Victor almost made the dental hygienist pee her pants when he told her that the fluoride treatment smelled like fecal matter.

Yes, those were his exact words.
********************
Me: Hey, Victor, it's time to go to the potty and then we can get a snack.
Victor: I already did it every time today and I don't want to do it. I hate it. I really, really hate it. And it's annoying. And I don't want to do it. And I don't know why. (Continue in like manner for a few more minutes...)

At least he's using words?
********************
"Hello, Wissewa, my lovely."
********************
On the 4th of July, after a few firecrackers went off at the party (which he LOVED!)...
Victor: I'm going to be a firework-er when I grow up.
Eden: Do you mean a firefighter?
Victor: No, a firework-er. I'm going to go bang bang.
Me: Why do you like firecrackers and not dogs? Aren't firecrackers louder than dogs?
Victor: Cause they crack you up and dogs bark you up.
********************
Victor: Mariana, are you brushing your teeth upstairs?
Mariana: Yes.
Victor: I thought you were going to brush them downstairs.
Mariana: No, I'm upstairs.
Victor: You're a tricky girl, aren't you?
and then after we all laughed...
Victor: I have a smile on my face. (Just in case we are the ones who can't see and need to know that he enjoyed the joke, too.)
********************
At midnight...
Victor: Mom......Mom.....Mommmmmmmm....MMMMMOOOOOMMMMMMMM!
Me: Yes, Victor.
Victor: Mom, I'm so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so tired.
Me: That's because it's midnight. Now guess what? I'm so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so tired, too. Go to sleep.
********************
After so many siblings, you'd think that there is no way Victor could come up with a novel excuse for getting out of bed after being tucked in, but he found a way.
Me: Victor, go back to bed. You don't need anything else.
Victor: I need my imaginary friends. I forgot to get them.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

From cows to ducks

It's not easy to find a family activity that is enjoyable, relatable, and do-able for all age groups and ability levels. So we talk a lot about the world not revolving around you, working against the need to be entertained, getting out of it what you put into it, and sometimes, just taking one for the team. Blah. Blah. Blah.
Someday they will rise up and call me blessed.

I think.

In the meantime, with God's help I do what I can.


In 2004, Harrisburg was full of painted cows. We took the kids into the city for a walking tour of the cows and had a wonderful time goofing off, posing, taking photos, and just being together.
 
So, when I heard that the summer of 2017 brought ducks to the city, I thought this might be a nice family night.
I'm not sure any of us are into ducks and some of us aren't even city people, but just spending time together, chatting, making memories, and tracking down all the ducks should be bonding, right?

And whenever Dad makes you gather round for yet another photo, it's gotta be fun, right?


Great fun was had by most.

Try it. You might like it.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Faithful



This was the Good Doctor's Facebook status yesterday. He's good with numbers and dates. He can tell you the date of our first date, our first kiss, and yes, our anniversary. I'm not so good at numbers but can usually remember the little details like where we were, what people were wearing, and what was said. The fact that the Good Doctor can remember both from our journey to McBIC, says a lot about that time period in our lives. The fact that the details are fuzzy for me, says even more.

Being a pastor's wife was never something I desired to be. Funny, because I can remember a time when we were dating that I looked at him at thought, "He's going to be a pastor someday." We were standing on the sidewalk outside of our dorms, talking I just looked up and new. (Details, right?) It's probably a good thing that my thoughts didn't connect to the next obvious realization: that continuing to date him would lead to me being the pastor's wife someday. I had seen and heard about a lot of churches and watched a lot of pastors get chewed up and spit out. I knew that many of them needed to work second jobs to raise a family. Later, when I taught in a Christian school, I saw their children come through my classroom and observed the effects of overworked and unavailable pastors on the lives of their children. Of course there are overworked and unavailable fathers in every profession but it seemed most unfortunate when it was the church that pulled their dads away. I watched these children leave my classroom and grow up, only to abandon the faith that pulled their fathers away from them. And I saw the effects on the wives of the pastors.

And then one day the Good Doctor dropped his bombshell. "I think I'm being called to be a pastor." If my memory is correct, he took me out to dinner to tell me this news, an attempt to butter me up first. He later admitted how scared he was to tell me. But he couldn't have known that his announcement would not come as a surprise.

Fast forward almost 10 years and here we were, interviewing at this church with the funny nickname, McBIC. The road here was long. And it was hard. It had been about a year since we first started to feel God nudging us to something else, six months since the Good Doctor had interviewed with his seminary professor's church in New Jersey. We thought that's where we were going but they later decided not to hire anyone, after the powers-that-be couldn't decide if the new hire should be the youth pastor or the children and youth pastor or the family pastor. So many events had transpired between that first interview and finding ourselves interviewing at McBIC that my faith that God could actually have a healthy church for us, in a good location, was pretty slim.

But it just takes the faith of a mustard seed, right?

McBIC has been good for our souls. For our faith journey. And for our prayer lives. For our children. For the King's Strings. For Mariana's acting career. For me. And we probably have only seen a few of the reasons why He needed to call us here. But that's enough. And we only need to be careful that we do not forget His deeds in the past. He was faithful then and He will be faithful in the future.