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!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Welcome

Come September there will be a new member of the King family. Not in the usual sense (remember, John doesn't want to put any more through college). Not even a foster child (well, we can only hope). This new member comes fully prepared for adulthood; all we have to do is house and feed her. Her name is Rachel and she's a 2010 high school graduate from Virginia who will be attending the Global Awakening school and just needed a place to call home while she does so.

How, you ask, does a non-people person feel about this? Actually, I enjoy seeing our family grow in this way. We have gotten to know some wonderful people through the years, just by making the family decision that we don't need as much personal space as most Americans. God has blessed us, why shouldn't we bless others?

And ultimately, it's my grandfather's fault. "PopPop Bauman" performed our wedding ceremony. I am honored to be part of a long line of family members who can make that claim. Unfortunately, I was also the last as his health was declining even at our wedding and my brother had to help him up the steps of the sanctuary. I am so grateful that God allowed my grandfather to marry us as he is a man whose life I highly admire. By his actions, he taught me a lot about welcoming others and sharing what you have. But that's not why it's his fault. His share of the blame comes from the prayer he prayed at our wedding: "Make of this new home a place where the Spirit of Jesus will love to dwell. May the home they are forming become a pillar in the church, a sign of Your grace and glory in the community and a blessing to every child and guest who enters its portals." Take out the archaic language and I think that means he was commissioning us to have an open home. I always thought of him as a prophet. Now I know.

First there were the foster babies. Yes, even in the beginning I needed my baby fix on a regular basis and even before we had the six who stayed there were:
Courtney - a beautiful baby girl who I predicted would grow up to be tall and slender
Andrew - I often wonder about Andrew as he has Down Syndrome, it was amazing to us that God would give us a boy with this name as we had already decided we wanted to name our first boy Andrew
Tabitha Pagie - we both became very attached to this smiler
Johnnie - had his days and nights very mixed up and had the appearance of a very old man
Kelly - a delightful baby who rarely cried
Carlos - part Honduran and part Brazilian, Carlos was a beautiful but big baby
Taneesha - born premature and exposed to cocaine she weighed only 5 pounds
Shanice - another night owl who wanted us to enjoy the nightlife with her
Marcus and Tymir - not twins but stayed with us at the same time - one white and one black
Kevin - we actually met Kevin's adoptive family and John was able to hand him to his forever mother
Avis - another would-be keeper that we were both very attached to
Richard - a smiler and a talker
Anthony - a cute face and a ton of hair
Gabriel - came to us at the beginning of December, if I told you I named him I bet you could guess what the sermon was about that week
Justin - came "justin" time for Christmas
Bianca - a girl with a big appetite
Nancy - came to us without a name and I named her in honor of a favorite figure skater
Angel - one of our healthier babies
Matthew - really struggling with the disappointment of infertility at this point it was very difficult to give up Matthew, he touched both of our lives in a special way
April - another who came without a name but since she came in the month of April...
Olivia - once again named by me, the social worker handed her off at The Olive Garden Restaurant
Samantha - a little older than most of our babies, she was already able to hold her own head and sit with assistance
Crystal - BIG eyes!
Cheyenne - BIG cheeks!
Malachi - a sibling to Marcus who stayed with us earlier, I chose an "M" name to match his brother's
Brianna - I think she was the oldest child to stay with us
Dollie - named by me because she was so tiny
And in case you weren't keeping track, that's 28 little peanuts that came into our home while they were awaiting adoption. But then I got pregnant and was too tired to be waking up all hours of the night with little ones, many of whom were preemies born with the effects of drugs.

About 6 years later we decided to open our home as a shepherding home with the local crisis pregnancy center. Through this program, a single pregnant mother would live with us until the birth of her baby and then for up to 4 months following the delivery. It was our job to not only give her a home but to demonstrate healthy family life and to teach her independent living skills. We were already slightly familiar with this program as I had been the birthing coach for a teen mother who went through the program and was living in a different shepherding home. So, one after the other we welcomed "Emily" and "Michelle". Emily gave birth to a little girl and Michelle had a premature little boy and I once again had the joy of helping a young mother welcome her little one into the world. These situations each came with their own challenges but I am thankful for the opportunities of each.

Then we moved to Mechanicsburg. Not finding a similar program in this area, and also not being entirely comfortable bringing teen mothers into our home when we also had junior high aged sons, shepherding has not been an option here. No problem. John came as the young adult pastor and young adults often need a place to live. In the 7 years we've been here we've had 5 different young adults live in our home for a period of several weeks to several months. Each has a special place in our hearts and in our family. Now it's Rachel's turn. We hope she feels just as welcomed and becomes a part of the family just as quickly.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Flapper thingie

I walked into the kitchen tonight to find my husband standing by the microwave watching a little red plastic thing go round-and-round on the turntable. Turns out it's called a flapper and it's to fix the toilet. The toilet that's been sitting in our driveway for a month. Right next to a huge pile of tile, plaster, chicken wire and lath. I'm sure the neighbors have been having very interesting dinner-table conversations as they look out the kitchen window, at our lovely bathroom-in-a-driveway. It's kind of like bed-in-a-bag only not quite so small, and definitely not as pretty. Certainly just as practical. It's a good thing the social worker hasn't been around. I would have had quite a time explaining that we do have indoor plumbing and that we don't force any of our children to use the bathroom-in-a-driveway. I only wish I had thought of taking a picture of it all before the toilet (still unusable) was moved back into the bathroom.

It happened like this: While John and his cohort were studying away in Virginia, Isaac and I started to pull the tile off the bathroom wall. Then we found that underneath was plaster. Then my dad came and he got Andrew and Jesse to help him pull off the plaster and all the surprises that they found beneath that. By they time they were finished they were all sporting white hair. The new tub was installed. Then it leaked. Then John came back and Grandma and Grandpa decided to visit from Ohio. We thought they'd probably prefer indoor plumbing so John brought the toilet back into the house. He's not a plumber. It leaked, didn't work, and in the end needed to be flushed the old fashioned way - with a gallon jug. Did I mention it was leaking in the basement?

On a positive note, we have a great looking bathroom. It has everything it needs and is almost finished. Except for one small thing...

So back to the little red plastic flapper thingie that was in the microwave. Apparently it's the second one he's bought but can't get to work. He thinks it's a little bent so he's now trying to melt it enough to reshape it. Kind of like a football mouthpiece, he says. I'm not sure I'd compare something that goes in my mouth to something that helps eliminate bodily waste but if that suits him, who am I to complain? In the future, though, I think all plumbing in the King house is best left to the professionals - including the reshaping of flapper thingies.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Formerly Known As

Important! Please read before continuing: I have written blogs in the past that have been vetoed by my husband and rather than being published they have either a. been deleted or b. remained in that mysterious cyber world known as "edit posts" to be used at a later date, at my own discretion. This veto business is usually due to content but has also been done due to inflammatory language and unnecessary violence in the written word. This blog, however, has not only passed his scrutiny but has been given his blessing. Nay, it has not only been given his blessing it has been strongly recommended that I put my verbal comments down for all to see. All this to say that I am not to be held responsible for anyone who is upset by the content of this blog.

On that note, please read on.

In recent years I have adopted a lifestyle which has helped me to better cope with my role as pastor's wife and this lifestyle involves staying free of any and all denominational mumbo jumbo, discussions, controversies, etc. Believing that God never intended His people to fight about questions such as whether it is better to read our music from a book or off the wall or whether sanctuaries should be surrounded by stained glass or basketball nets, I have chosen instead to just sit back, listen, watch, and observe. I do believe my health thanks me for this stance.

Recently, however, I have heard a lot of talk about something called Brethren in Christ General Conference. It appears as if it has been going on for quite some time, possibly since the first BICers arrived in the New World. I am not sure how I have missed it in the past, but I did.

The most interesting phenomenon about this current conference is talk about changing the name "Brethren in Christ" to something a little more inclusive. Funny, I didn't know that I was previously excluded, but apparently I was. I should say that my cousin did warn me. Back when we first left the MENnonite church to join the BRETHREN in Christ, she asked me if our denomination had issues with inclusive language. I told her that it had never come up. Either I was wrong or they've somehow figured out that there should be a problem. So now it has to be solved.

I wasn't invited to these name-change meetings, and probably wouldn't go even if I was, but I did share some of my ideas with the family at dinner. That was when I was highly encouraged to share them with everyone, so here goes. You'll not only get to see my thoughts but you can also follow the evolution of ideas.

Idea #1 - Brethren and Sisters in Christ. It has a nice sound although Brethren and Sistern in Christ gives it more of a poetic feel (or should I say poema so it sounds more Biblical?). It opens up great possibilities for a logo, including the obvious stick figure male holding hands with a stick figure female, in the tradition of those stick-ons you see on the back of all the mini-vans around town. Or maybe they shouldn't hold hands since brothers and sisters don't really do that a whole lot. Maybe the arms should be around each other's necks in a type of strangle hold. That would probably be more realistic. The biggest down-side to this option, in my opinion, is the difficulty in shortening our name. Mechanicsburg B.S. or Carlisle B.S. doesn't look very nice on letterhead and it'd be embarrassing to invite your neighbors to join you at the local B.S. church on Sunday morning.

Idea #2 - Brethren and Cistern in Christ. Think of it as a play on words. To the untrained ear, it will sound like Idea #1 but without the difficulty in abbreviating. For example, we at Mechancisburg Brethren in Christ (McBIC) could still be McBC (no one will miss the "I" since people eliminate vowels on vanity plates all the time) and no one need be insulted. Males and females, thinking they were hearing about the Brethren and Sisters church, would feel equally included without all that B.S. business. It kind of gives it an Adam and Eve feel, doesn't it? And as for a logo, this one is perfect. With the double meaning of sistern/cistern, we could develop a logo with a stick figure diving into a cistern, thereby incorporating believer's baptism at the same time. This option is also environmentally friendly as we could eliminate our baptismal fonts and just baptize in the local cistern.

I admit, though, that there are still some complications with this idea. So, I came up with a third option.

Idea #3 - It's a little difficult to describe this option so stay with me here. Those of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s will remember The Artist Formerly Known as Prince. This concept of changing one's name to something unpronounceable has always intrigued me and I'd like to propose the BIC name-change dilemma as just the right time to replicate this by becoming The Denomination Formerly Known as Brethren in Christ. I admit that it is rather lengthy but just as The Artist Formerly Known As Prince came to be known only by a logo or TAFKAP, we could do the same. The abbreviation would be a breeze as it would be the same as our denomination name: "TDFKABIC". McBIC would become McTDFKABIC. It would fit just fine on a sign, even saving us a couple bucks for all those letters we wouldn't need. We could have a contest to design the logo and another to come up with the generally-accepted pronunciation of TDFKABIC.

(Let me pause here to put in my vote for pronouncing this like "T.D.-fake-a-bic" showing that not only do we accept both males and females, those in the church and those out of the church, but we also love and accept people who like football and people who put on a fake face when in public - if that doesn't include everyone, I don't know what does).

Author's note: For obvious reasons the author of this blog does not want her identity known so she is writing under the pseudonym "TAFKACK". Please submit all correspondence concerning this article to the correct address.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Best attempts

We're doing the best we can with this parenting thing. But, like everyone else, we're human and we make our fair share of mistakes. As I've heard from another set of parents at McBIC, there's always the Healing Prayer Ministry to help our children deal with our mistakes.

As if having a mother who makes mistakes isn't bad enough, it must be even more difficult to have a teacher has-been as a mother. Not quite as difficult as actually having your mother for a teacher (the worst my children ever had was mother as substitute teacher) but it's a close second.

For starters, she never lets you have a summer vacation. She gave the "all children lose necessary skills over the summer" speech a few too many times to let you become the next victim of this occurrence.

Secondly, former teachers give new meaning to the phrase "family vacation". While other families are going to the beach, amusement parks and camping trips, your family is visiting the Norman Rockwell Museum (with a mom-made scavenger hunt to be filled out), taking a walking tour of the beach through the local nature center, and filling out all of the National Park's Kid Ranger Fact Sheets.

Third, she corrects your grammar. In front of your younger siblings. In front of your friends. On facebook.

Finally, she gets all sorts of learning ideas that she wants to implement in the home. Now. On you.

Unfortunately my children aren't all sponges and don't take to my ideas as I would desire. Like the time I decided we needed to learn the Latin word of the week. Not only did the children need to know the meaning, they also needed to find English words that came from the Latin root. Motivation wasn't really high to participate in that one.

They also don't like my Chat Pack with "Fun Questions to Spark Conversations." When they want to make fun of this one they just start asking each other what kind of vegetable they'd choose to be if they could be any vegetable they wanted.

Object lessons to make points are also often called flops. They didn't like the illustration of playing ball by throwing it back and forth, used to illustrate the need to "throw back" the conversation rather than catch it and drop it with answers like "good", "nothing" and "okay." (However, don't tell them but it has gotten the boys to better participate in conversations.)

Most recently I implemented the "one hour without electronics" rule on all long distance trips. I am frustrated by the lack of relationship building when everyone has something stuck in their ears or has their eyeballs glued to a screen. I understand that long trips get boring and these implements help the trip to go faster. So do naps (and they at least are good for you). Hence the new rule. Now I know that Jesse has vented his feelings about this on Facebook. That's okay. I completely understand the need to vent in my writing and would never deny him this right (and am secretly glad he IS writing). However, his statement that my attempt did not work is incorrect. We had a lovely conversation on the way to the beach. We talked through some important King's Strings stuff and wrote a "beautiful" song in honor of Grandma's collision with a deer. And when the conversation started to get dull, we could always count on Jesse to lead us in a Chat Pack question, starting with, "If you could be any vegetable, what would you be?" Jesse's answer, "A squash." And my personal favorite, "If you could be any item in the bathroom, what would you be?" That's my Jesse.

In the end, no matter how many failed attempts there are, I will continue to mother AND educate my children. I'm told they'll thank me some day. If not, I'll just try out a few ideas on my grandchildren. And then I'll send them home. Speaking Latin. Comparing themselves to vegetables. And conversing more freely. Then my children will sing their gratitude for the mother who made mistakes but did the best she could.