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!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Musical Christmas misadventures

We spent a wonderful day with some of our theater friends (in light of yesterday's post, there were no guards at this gathering). If you want to have a great time, this is definitely the group to spend your day with.

So, in honor of all our theater friends, and in light of recent happenings at one of our favorite playhouses, I'm going to write a Christmas musical. A sneak peek to whet your appetite:

"The Misadventures of Santa's Actors"

(Disclaimer: No, the King family does not celebrate Santa. The theater where our kids act, however, uses Santa in every Christmas show title. Don't worry, it ends with the greatest story ever told.)

So, beginning again:

"The Misadventures of Santa's Actors" takes place on Christmas Eve when 7 actors and a Santa Claus are stranded in Penn Station, hoping to get home for Christmas. One is here because her recent appendectomy kept her from going home a week earlier. Another rushes into the station after finding out that her car has been towed and she needs to find an alternate method of transportation - quick! Two unemployed actors arrive at the train station after using their limited strumming ability, mixed with a large dose of vocal fortitude, to find enough cash in their guitar cases to get them to their respective homes. Here's hopin' Mom and Dad provide the cash to get them back to the big city. The fifth is on her way home but a show closing case of laryngitis has her communicating all in charades. She's an actress; it works! The next couple, former actors and curent theater owners in the South, are headed home after a whirlwind tour of all their former haunts. They have their kids in tow, all named for roles they played in musicals during their careers: Rolfe, Liesl (the roles they were playing when they met), Curly, Nellie, Millie, and Lil Annie (from Annie, naturally). And Santa - he's just finished his last shift sitting on a chair facing a long line of snotty nosed kids. He's just glad he can finally go home where there aren't as many germs and no one demanding favorite toys, except that someone has stolen his backpack containing all of his earthly possessions. Of course our dynamic group of actors will burst into spontaneous musical numbers featuring your favorite Christmas songs, including a STOMP-like rendition of Jingle Bells, I'll Be Home for Christmas on maracas, and their own rendition of the Charlie Brown Christmas dance. It's a Christmas musical sure to put a smile on your face and which you'll want to return to year after year after year.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The end

I hope you all know how fortunate you are that I am able to write this blog. We almost saw the end of my ability to post. Ever. I saw my freedom fleeting before my very eyes. Although, if I was going to be stuck anywhere, it was probably a good place to live out my days. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

As many of you know, Mariana is employed as a performer at a central Pennsylvania family-friendly, chocolate-inspired amusement park (name withheld to protect the usually innocent). Because she is under-age and must comply with the state of Pennsylvania's child labor laws as well as the rules of the central Pennsylvania family-friendly, chocolate-inspired amusement park, she must be accompanied by a guardian at all times. As such, she wears a pass with her lovely photo on it and her guardian carries a small laminated pass that clearly states "2010 Performer's Pass: Guardian of Mariana King" and "Enter at Employee Gate Only." Most of the time we enter the park with little trouble, although they often look at us funny and scrutinize our passes as if we're mother-daughter thieves trying to illegally enter said park. Exiting has never been an issue and we just walk through with a friendly good-bye. Never a need to flash a pass to exit. Tonight, as usual, we entered with little more than a glance and a security wave through the employee-only gates. It was when we tried to go home that we had trouble.

As we were walking toward the employee gate to leave, I glanced up and saw not one but three guards standing in the way. I joked to Mariana that they sent a whole swarm of guards to meet us this time. Little did I know how true that was going to be.

We got closer to find that the three power-wielding men were blocking the exit gate. The following is an exact transcipt of the conversation that followed:

Guard #1: (Presumably the leader as he did most of the talking): What do you think you're doing?

Cindy: We're leaving.

Guard #1: Do you work here?

Cindy (Pointing to Mariana): She does.

Guard #1: Then she can leave but you can't.

Cindy (Laughs, thinking he is joking - Hey, it's always good to have a funny guard)

Guard #1: Well, this exit is for employees only. How did you get here?

Cindy (Still thinking he 's joking): She drove herself.

Guard #1: Well, you certainly didn't park here.

Cindy: Yes, we did. We're parked in the employee parking lot.

Guard #1: But you didn't come in through this gate.

Cindy (Beginning to realize that there might be a problem): Are you serious or are you joking?

Guard #1: I'm serious. You certainly didn't come in through this gate.

Cindy: Yes, we did. She's an employee. She works in the theater.

Guard #1 (Said to Mariana while pointing at Cindy): Did you bring her in here with you?

Mariana: Yes, I did.

Guard #1 (Looks at Mariana with a conspiratorial glance, clearly saying without words, "Come on, I know you're lying.")

Guard #2 (Finally getting a voice): Well, we don't allow non-employees to enter through the employee gate.

Guard #3 (Also breaking his silence): And I know I wasn't here when you entered.

Cindy (Thinking to herself: This is true but how does it relate to our current situation? Are you the only guard allowed to admit people? We had a very nice, non-power wielding female guard when we walked through)

Guard #1: Who is the employee?

Cindy (Thinking to herself that we've already been through this and digging in her purse for her pass): She is. She has a pass. And so do I.

Mariana (Holds up her pass, which has been hanging around her neck in plain view this whole time)

Guard #1: Only the employee is allowed through this gate. You're surely not parked in this parking lot and this is for employees only.

Cindy (Still looking for the pass which she always has at-the-ready when entering but has never had to use when exiting. It would be easy to find if she wasn't so confused and flustered): But I am her guardian. I have a pass which says "Guardian". How do you think a minor gets here?

Guard #2 (Feeling bolder and smarter as time passes): We do not let guardians through this gate, only employees.

Guard #3 (Pointing to sign on gate and talking to Cindy as if she is short-of-brain cells as well as stature): It says right here - Employee Exit Only

This never-ending conversation went on for several more rounds while Cindy tried to imagine life stuck in the central Pennsylvania family-friendly chocolate-inspired amusement park. A never-ending supply of Reese's Peanut Butter cups didn't seem so bad. It might get kind of cold for sleeping, though. And they don't sell ice cream in the park in winter. Her brain tried to compute the rationale behind allowing guardians to enter the park but refusing them leave. She finally located her pass and held it right under their noses.

Guards #1, 2, and 3: Ohhhhhh. We can let you through.

It was that easy.

Later, as we were processing the evening, we were reminded of a conversation we overheard earlier. It was between several other guards, located elsewhere in the park. These guards were joking about how it'd be to their liking if this particular central Pennsylvania family-friendly chocolate-inspired amusement park adapted the TSA full-body scan and pat down procedures. Must have been something extra in the water tonight that caused power-exerting feelings and actions in the men wearing brown uniforms.

Please pass the Reese's.

Mariana with writer, director, and producer of Home Sweet Home for Christmas, Matt Davenport (who has absolutely nothing to do with the refusal-to-allow-departure guards in today's story and who would be aghast if he knew his actors and their guardians were being treated with such contempt)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

OCD Thanksgiving

By now I'm sure many of you have seen the obsessive-compulsive Thanksgiving letter as it makes its way around the cyber world. If not, it's a must read. You can find it here: http://www.californiakara.com/p/thanksgiving-letter.html

In fact, you'll have to read it to better understand my thoughts for today. Because you see, as I read this letter, it made perfect sense to me. No use having your meal ruined by someone not following your carefully thought-out plans. You didn't take so much time attending to every little detail to have something forgotten or misplaced. But as I thought about it more, I realized that the writer of this letter is not an exact copy of me. The major difference here is that this writer is, as my husband would say, a High D personality. Now, I can never remember what all the letters stand for in those personality tests - that's John's job - but I do know that I am as far from a High D on those tests as you can get. In fact, I do not get along with High D people; they run right over me and have me cowering in a corner saying, "Yes, ma'am," and "No, sir" even though I don't agree with a thing they are saying.

So here's the difference: I would never write such a letter. I would be thinking it. I would be hoping everyone follows my directions. If I were to give you directions for Thanksgiving dinner, this is how my letter would come out (with notes in parentheses so you can understand the reasoning behind the words):

Happy Thanksgiving! (You are receiving this a month early because I am an over-planner and I want you to know that the holiday is approaching and it's time to start planning for it so that nothing goes wrong)

From: The 2010 Thanksgiving Planning Committee (Never put your name on something because if people don't like it they will complain about you; making it a group effort makes it look like you have friends who agree with you)

I am so thankful that I have all of you to help with the meal preparation. (Actually, I feel like I could do it better if I just did it all myself but that would be a lot of work. I'm going to try to allow you to help with the meal but I am very concerned that it won't all turn out just right. I don't have much faith in all of you but I'm trying. I do appreciate your futile attempts but I already know that I will be frustrated by the results.)

Below, you will find your name and the item you are to bring. Please let me know if this is a problem. (While I like what the original letter writer penned: "Now, while I do have quite a sense of humor and joke around all the time, I COULD NOT BE MORE SERIOUS when I am providing you with your Thanksgiving instructions and orders. I am very particular, so please perform your task EXACTLY as I have requested and read your portion very carefully. If I ask you to bring your offering in a container that has a lid, bring your offering in a container WITH A LID, NOT ALUMINUM FOIL! If I ask you to bring a serving spoon for your dish, BRING A SERVING SPOON, NOT A SOUP SPOON! And please do not forget anything," saying so would be too bold.)

Please bring your food item ready to be served. (This should not need to be stated but since not everyone can be as organized and detail-oriented as me, it needs to be spelled out.)

The Mike Bauman Family
1.Your turnip casserole, if you'd like. (By adding "if you'd like" I'm implying that you are the only one who likes it but I don't want to come out and say it. I'm hoping you'll figure it out yourself.)
2. Two half gallons of ice cream, you can get whatever brands or flavors you like but I know from other years that peanut butter swirl seems to be a favorite and of course vanilla is always a good option. (Make it sound like this is from past experience when really you just prefer peanut butter but can't say so.)

The Bob Moyer Family
Green beans or asparagus in a casserole with a lid and a serving spoon. You can make both if you'd like but you don't have to do that. If you make the green beans, it would be good to have about 4 pounds but if you make asparagus you might need 5 pounds. Last year we really liked the light sprinkling of toasted nuts on the top but I remember that you said it'd be better without the cheese. ("Would be good" and "might" make it look like you're not telling anyone what to do, only suggesting it. "Remembering" conversations that never happened is always a good idea, too.)

The Lisa Godshall Family
Lisa - congratulations again on your recent wedding! - we're all excited that you will be able to contribute this year. Could you bring the hors d'ouvres? (Questions are always good.) In the past we've always had something light. Since no one likes cocktail sauce and beans, you probably want to skip recipes with those ingredients. Last year we had a small platter of fresh vegetables so that might be a good idea. Everyone liked that. That might be nice. But you can bring whatever you'd like.

The June King Family
Could you make mashed potatoes like you did last year? They were so good and everyone loved them. (Compliments are always good). Last year you made 15 pounds and that was just perfect. You can serve it however you'd like but someone was remembering that the blue serving dish didn't work out so well. (Never admit that it was you who remembered that.) You might want to try using a smaller container and putting the rest in a plastic Tupperware container and we can replenish it as needed. Or you could just put it in two regular-sized casserole dishes. It's completely up to you. (But your way didn't work before so you should probably just use my ideas.)

The Amy Hostetler Family - PLEASE READ CAREFULLY (In other words, you never read my notes and if you do, somehow you always mess something up so please don't mess up this year.)
1. Pumpkin pie. I will send you my silver palate recipe. You don't have to use it if you don't want to use it. I just thought it would save you the trouble of finding one. I know that this one tastes great. (No need to tell her that last year's recipe wasn't any good; that might hurt her feelings.)

Looking forward to the 28th!!

Cindy and the 2010 Thanksgiving Planning Committee (one last shot at making people think that you aren't the only obsessive -compulsive member of the family.)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! You'd better go back and find that email that Aunt Matilda sent out earlier this month. You wouldn't want to miss any of her directions!

Friday, November 19, 2010

35 days, 13 hours, 15 minutes

Christmas 2006 - Feliz Navidad

Recently returned from a family mission trip to Mexico, we didn't get too creative with the picture. The card, however, started out with, "Greetings from the King Kids! We decided we were tired of Mom's cutesy Chrismtas greetings so we staged a revolt. No more dressing us up like angels and shepherds, we said! No more putting us in stockings or large packages. No more posing in wise men costumes from India or outfits that read 'Fa La La La La' when seated in order. We're done! This year, we're in charge. So, we got our heads together and after hours of deliberation, disagreements, and delegations, we decided to send you a picture to represent our recent trip to Mexico."

And there you have it; a Christmas card written by the kids. That wasn't really. But people thought it was. Fun, fun!

Christmas 2007 - H O P E

It seemed like a good idea to create the letters in the word "hope" to celebrate the up-coming adoption and to share our hope in the future. We didn't, however, count on Eden have a complete meltdown. Oh well. You do the best you can.

Christmas 2008

Just your run-of-the-mill Christmas collage photo with a Year-in-Review Quiz

"How much do you know about the King family happenings of 2008? Put on your thinking cap, grab a mug of hot chocolate, turn on your favorite Christmas CD, wrap yourself in your warmest blankets and read on . . .

Questions included:

What exciting thing happened to the King family in April?
a. We went surfing in the Pacific
b. We went on a cruise to the Arctic
c. We were on Funniest Home Videos
d. We adopted HopeAnne

Jesse went on vacation in June. Where did he go and with whom?
a. Audio Adrenaline concert with Grandma Mary Ann
b. The Amazon with MomMom Bauman
c. Hang gliding in Colorado with Cindy
d. New Mexico with PopPop

Which family pet escaped this year and where was it found?
a. Isaac's fish, found in his bed
b. Jesse's guinea pig, found in the fridge's veggie bin
c. The family's dog, Linus, found sharing a bowl of spaghetti with a female cocker spaniel
d. Andrew's snake, found in a desk drawer

What does John teach at Messiah College?
a. Botany
b. Household Organizational Micromanagement
c. African Ballet Belly Dancing
d. Psychology

And just in case you didn't know the answers, we kindly supplied them for you:

After being a foster child in our home since June 2006, Hope officially became a member of the King family. The adoption hearing was made even more special with over 40 friends in attendance, a Christian judge who allowed us to pray in court and a butterfly release along the Susquehanna River.

Jesse went to Vermejo Ranch in New Mexico to enjoy horseback riding, hiking, fishing and hanging out with PopPop. Two food firsts for Jesse were lamb and eating his own freshly caught fish.

Yes, we DO have a corn snake and yes she DID escape for the first time after 7 years of contented living in her fish tank and yes it was CINDY who found her in a desk drawer and yes the snake DOES now have an escape-proof cage handmade by PopPop

Although there have been rumors of John teaching dance classes at Messiah, it is the psychology department where he can be found as an adjunct professor. Actually, all family members but Cindy have made appearances in his class to demonstrate different points. If he took Cindy into class he wouldn't be able to use her as an example for so many of his topics.

Christmas 2009

Another plain old family portrait (can you tell that the children have officially revolted against my ideas?) accompanied by a list of the King family favorite TV shows and movies from 2009, including:

MASH - 2009's remake of this oldie-but-goodie was in a completely new battlefield: High School. Andrew took the giant leap from middle school to Mechanicsburg Area Senior High. He remains a great student but more importantly his character remains steadfast...

What Not to Wear - Jesse took a break from his regularly scheduled program to participate in an episode of What Not to Wear. He was nominated by Andrew who is daily embarrassed by Jesse's creative wardrobe...

The King and I, Etcetera, Etcetera, Etcetera - A favorite with many , this show featured the King kids in various theatrical roles...

School Musical 7 - After watching John complete elementary school, junior high school, high school, college, and 2 master's degrees, viewers are now able to watch this reality series where John is working on his doctorate in Counseling Education and Supervision...Since so much time is being invested in this endeavor, we certainly wish the King family well and hope that John does not get voted off until his 4 years have been completed. Along with Cindy we also hope that there is never a School Musical 8.

John and Cindy Pulus Six and Counting - This show follows the Kings as they pursue foster care and possible future adoptions. Unfortunately, for some strange reason the state of Pennsylvania believes that 6 children is a large amount and has done its best to limit the numer of foster children in a home...

So now you see my dilemma: How to keep the masses happy while being considerate of my family's right to say no. How many days are left til this year's cards need to be in the mail?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

36 days, 15 hours, 9 minutes

Christmas 2003 - Stepping Out in Faith...

We weren't feeling much like laughing this year. It had been a rough one. But on the other side of it we wanted to share our testimony of God's faithfulness. We made a family project of cutting out mini houses. The door opened to a picture of the children stepping out of our front door. Inside the house envelope was the annual letter. It was also to represent our change of address and move to Mechanicsburg.

Quotes from this year that still hold true today: "This move has been the best thing for John and me as individuals, for our marriage and for our family . . . He has a flamboyantly creative side that keeps us guessing (Jesse, of course) . . . Mariana is in kindergarten and is still our drama queen. She has something to say about every subject and answers questions even when she doesn't kow the answer . . . We were able to find Suzuki violin teachers in the area and the children's playing has just blossomed since coming here. We are now well on our way to a King Quartet . . .Taking such a huge step of faith this year has been a wonderful blessing to us!"

Some people let us know that they felt let down by this year's card; apparently it wasn't funny enough. That's okay. There was plenty of time to continue that tradition.

Christmas 2004 - 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and all Through the House Not a Creature Was Stirring . . .

We're told some people read the front of the card and before turning the page said, "Yeah, right," which was exactly what they found written on the inside. After a short hiatus, this card announced another King Kid - Eden this time. Knowing we were running out of card ideas, this card ended with an appeal for future ideas. A few people answered the call and sent us their ideas.

Christmas 2005 - Once Upon a Time

A Suzuki concert requiring medieval wear provided us with costumes just begging to be worn again. This letter began, "Once upon a time in the village of Mechanicsburg, there lived a royal family."

Would you believe it also stated, "Andrew, the 10-year old knight, just capped off an excellent rookie season in soccer, scoring 18 goals...Andrew is still playing the violin and especially loves fiddling which is not something you typically hear in a castle...Jesse's favorite school subject is gym...The lovely damsel, Mariana, turned 7 this year...She is very dramatic and creative...(Isaac) loves animals and was thrilled to win a fish at our church's fall fest. The fish that Isaac named Fishfood died after only three days ad Isaac was devastated. Maybe he will find a new pet under the tree this Christmas (which he did indeed, more fish)...The royal King and Queen decided that Isaac should switch from violin to viola, thereby creating the official castle string quartet...And then there is Eden, the very sweet castle jester..."

Are you getting some ideas for yourself? Tune in tomorrow for the final installment in our trip down Christmas Memory Lane...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Inspired by Julie

I finally watched Julie and Julia. I know, I'm really far behind in my movie viewing. I don't get out much. I am, however, completely up-to-date in my Veggie Tales, American Girl, Angelina Ballerina, and Little House on the Prairie. So I'm not a total loss.

I have to say that I am now inspired in my blog writing. Julie, the main character (for those of you who saw this so long ago that you now can't remember the plot), decides to cook through Julia Childs' cookbook of 524 recipes in 365 days and to blog about her experience. So, I'm trying to decide what my yearlong project could/should be.

I immediately ditched the Julia Childs idea since my picky eaters most certainly aren't into French cooking and I am most certainly not going to touch a duck.

Sticking to the cooking theme, however, I thought about cooking through the recipes in the Franconia Culinary Pride 'n Joy (Mennonite) Cookbook. But with over 800 recipes I thought it was a little out of reach. And while daily doses of variations on shoo-fly pie, jams, and homemade breads sounded more palatable than French cooking, I believe all those fats and carbs would have some disastrous results on my family's health.

I knew I had to find something I was more passionate about than cooking.

Children, of course.

So I thought about adopting a child each day for the next year. But unfortunately that's logistically impossible. And 365 does sound like a lot of children. Even to me.


I thought it'd be fun to read a new book each day for the next year. The only problem with that is that I have a family to raise. I don't think this goal is very compatable with my other responsibilities.

Back to food, how about ice cream?

I could always try a new flavor of ice cream each day for the next 365 days. That probably wouldn't be very good for the figure. Or the grocery budget. Or my overall health. Maybe it'd be better to just make up a new flavor for each of the 365 days.

Something more adventurous?

I could do something on my Buckette List. Only it's not very long.

I could add something new to my Buckette List each day for a year. Only I'm not that adventurous and after 365 new items it would no longer be a Buckette List, it'd be a full-blown Bucket List. I'm not interested.

I'll give it til Dec. 31 to decide. Ideas appreciated.

37 days, 17 hours, and 13 minutes

And there then was . . .

Christmas 2000 - "Gifts Fit for a King"

This was the final installment in the King pun series and shared a little about each family member while remembering the gifts that were brought to Jesus when visited by the Magi. Some things never change as a line from 2000 so aptly shows: "Jesse has a knack for making others laugh . . ."

Christmas 2001

This is my personal favorite and the winner of the 2009 WordFM Christmas Card Contest (they didn't say it had to be a recent Christmas card; I checked the website numerous times before submitting it). We took lines from this carol and applied them to our life. A little sampling -

"Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly . . . or fingerprints, crayon marks, drawings or any other variation of handiwork.

Tis the Season to be Jolly . . . Our year actually started out with the birth of 'Jolly'. Isaac, which means 'laughter', was born on January 22.

See the Blazing Yule Before Us . . . We don't have a fireplace but Jesse says we should. He says we need it to catch the Big Bad Wolf should he happen to come huffing and puffing around our house.

Strike the Harp and Join the Chorus . . . Well, no one plays the harp in the King household but Andrew has been playing the violin since January and Jesse just started this fall. Andrew loves it and we enjoy his progress. He even played God is So Good at our Thanksgiving Eve service and O Come Little Children in December. Jesse insists the drums are more his style but we've convinced him to stick with the violin at least until he gets a little older.

(2010 Note: See how that one turned out?)

Sing We Joyous All Together . . . We aren't always singing, and we're not always as joyous as we should be, but we're thankful that we are all together. We are so blessed to be a family and we enjoy making memories that will stay with each of us forever. A big thank you to each of you who have helped make our year a special one.

Heedless of the Wind and Weather . . . I guess this is what you could say about Mariana when, one day in November, she asked if she could wear her bathing suit to her aunt's house so she could go swimming. It's so hard to think logically when you're three!

We'd love to share more about our family and our year but we've run out of verses!"

Christmas 2002 - "Have You Herd the Good News?"

I don't know if PhotoShop had been invented yet. If it had, we had no idea what it was. We did, however, go on a road trip to Idaho where the kids posed on a statue of a buffalo. We also have a creative and gifted sister-in-law who worked her magic with that buffalo photo and one with a herd of cattle. Each child contributed to his/her own section of this letter. And no, it didn't announce an up-coming King birth. These were the seminary years. We took a break.

Again, a sampling -

"Have YOU heard the good news . . .

from Andrew? I played violin in 3 weddings this year. One was in Idaho. We rode in a motor home all the way to Idaho...In September I rode more than 75 miles in the MS150...I bought a snake in April named Cornelia...

(2010 Note: We still have Cornelia)

from Jesse? Thank you, God for helping me swim in swimming lessons. Thank you, Jesus, for coming into my heart. Thank you that I could play baseball...Thank you that we could go to Dinosaur National Monument...Thank you that I lost my first tooth and that I have a new tooth growing up.

from Mariana? ...God is helping me play the violin by myself without any help. God helps me read...I was in a TV commerical.

from Isaac? (by Mommy) ... I am changing from a toddler to a little boy with my own personality. Trying to keep up with my siblings has given me a number of scrapes and close calls (like a big skid mark on my nose!) but I am blessed to have such wonderful plymates. Even though I'm little they take time to play with me and to teach me new things (although I could really do without being dressed up as a girl by them!"

Little did we know what the next year was going to hold, beginning just a month after those letters went out . . .

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

38 days, 5 hours, and 5 minutes

The countdown is on to come up with a new and exciting Christmas card from the King house to yours. The problem with creative Christmas cards is that once you send one, you are forever expected to produce another one the following year. For a time, the creative juices were flowing. And for several years I had very young and very cooperative children who didn't know better. Now I have teenagers. They aren't so young and they aren't always cooperative. They aren't so willing to wear silly costumes and to be modeling some cutesy saying. This whole Christmas card thing is now a family discussion which doesn't always end well. But it will come. Eventually.

Just in case this year's card doesn't get off the ground (pun intended, you'll get it if the card idea works), let's just take a trip down memory lane.

Christmas 1996 - "Do You Hear What I Hear?"

This is an example of coming up with the card's theme after the picture was taken. I'm not sure if Andrew had ear wax or something else in his ear, or if he was adjusting his hearing aid. I do know that it gave us a perfect line to start the card. The card then talked about common sounds around the King household with a 21 month old and a 2 month old and speculated about the sounds on that first Christmas night.

You'll want to remember that this was in the days before digital cameras and photoshop but please note that no children were harmed in the photographing of this scene. And Jesse has gotten past the fact that he was a 2 month old angel. He was also a 2 month old Jesus that Christmas season but he slept through both services of that role so he doesn't even remember it.

Christmas 1997 - "Just hangin' around - waiting for Christmas"

The theme of this year's card was (you guessed it) - waiting. It's tough to wait when you're 2 1/2. It's not so easy when you're just over a year old, either. For that matter, waiting is hard for all of us, just as it has been through the ages. So this card also shared our reflections on the Israelites and how they were waiting for the Messiah. It was also through this Christmas card that we announced the expected arrival of King Kid #3: "Cindy, as well as the whole family, waits to put a face to our third child, due in May." We know of at least one person who, upon reading the heading of the card, knew that it was going to announce another child. I guess it was about that time again.

Christmas 1998 - "Wee Three Kings"

This was the first in a series of cards that took advantage of our last name. We found that organizing three kids ages 3 and under was a lot more difficult than getting two to sit. Our plans for the kids to sit nicely and pose was a major failure so we just ended up using the chaos to write about how our best-laid plans don't always work. Jesus didn't really come according to what the people were expecting, either.

Christmas 1999 - "Good Kings Come in Small Packages"

You can probably see where this one went. We talked about what a gift each child was to us and their unique personalities. We wrote about the gift of healing in Andrew's life after surgery for craniosynostosis the summer before. And we celebrated the gift of Jesus.

And yes, the kids were actually IN the boxes, even though it looks like they're holding them. Mariana is also holding an Easter PEZ dispenser and eating PEZ candies, not because it was planned that way, but because it was the only way we could get her to sit.

To be continued...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Not my kid

One of my favorite books is Cheaper By the Dozen (of course). The real one. The book, not the movie. In fact, I don't know if I've ever even seen the movie. For all you folks who watch movies more than read books, yes there really was a family that had 12 children and lived to tell about it. In fact, it was the children who had the idea to write a book. Makes me wonder what my children are going to write about me someday.

Not that we have 12 children.


Anyway, back to the story. One of my favorite glimpses into the real-life Cheaper By the Dozen Family is when the mother answered the phone to a conversation like this one:

Child on phone: Hello, Mom? This is Erica. Can I go to Jenny's house?

Mother: Yes, dear. Have a good time.

It wasn't until she hung up that she realized that she didn't have a daughter named Erica and that she had just given someone else's daughter permission to stay at someone else's house.

Oh well. These things happen. It's best to just go on.

So when I got a postcard in the mail from the orthodontist's office, reminding me of Jessica's appointment for Nov. 30 at 4:15, of course I checked the calendar to confirm. Uh oh. No orthodontist appointment listed for Nov. 30. For any King kid. So I double-checked: "Appointment for Jessica on Nov. 30 at 4:15" it clearly stated. I looked again. Yep, I'm on the November page. And yes, I'm looking at the 30th. Still no King kids listed for an orthodontist appointment on that date. Check the postcard one more time: "Appointment for Jessica..." Wait a minute. . .

We don't have a Jessica.

We do have a Jesse. Now I don't know who is confused, the orthodontist's office or me. It could go either way.

It could be my mistake. I used to be ultra-organized. But then I had children. Not so much anymore. There was the year that Mariana was supposed to have her 5 year old check-up in May. I missed the appointment. I put my tail between my legs and called to explain my oversight. They were very nice and gave me another appointment a month later. I missed that one, too. This time I put my tail between my legs and my best sheepish face on and admitted my oversight once again. They gave me an appointment for July. Mariana finally got those kindergarten shots, just two months after the original appointment. To my credit, there was also a lot of stuff going on in our lives at the time and I was probably not at my emotional best (in fact, I think it was the longest Funny Farm stay ever).

But of course it could be the orthodontist's office. They do have a lot of patients and we do constitute a large portion of their patient base. In fact, I believe our contributions have completely furnished their waiting area, paid for all of their in-office magazine subscriptions, and will be sending all of the employees' children to college. All because they inherited their father's predisposition to not grow adult teeth and their mother's crowded mouth (and you all thought I had a big mouth - ha!). So I gave the office a call.

Me: Hello. I received a postcard in the mail reminding me about a child's appointment for Nov. 30 at 4:15. I'm not positive, but I don't think this is my child.

Receptionist: Let me check. You do have quite a few children so I can see how you would miss a child. (Shows you how often we really are there - they know me by voice alone)

Turns out Jessica King is not one of mine. Too bad. I'm sure she would fit in just fine.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Now that's a funny title for a blog post in November. Maybe she meant Christmas but got confused. Or maybe she's been in the car taxiing too many kids to theater rehearsals and shows and her mind's a little loopy.

Don't worry, folks. I have complete control of all my faculties. I think. It's just that we joined some friends tonight to help them make Communion bread. This is something I've wanted the kids to experience but since I've never made Brethren in Christ Communion Bread before (it's the recipe found in the Bible), we needed to find a more experienced BICer to show us the ropes. So, John Miller, I'm going to write nice things about you in this post. (And I thank you for not asking any difficult questions during the making of the bread.)

On the way over, we read the going-to-someone's-house rules once again: No fighting, yelling, talking over people, kicking, hitting, pinching, biting, etc. After the behavior review, Eden wanted to talk about Communion bread. She remembered that the holes in the bread represent Jesus' wounds from the nails. It seems she was listening and learning the past two Easters when we had an intergenerational Communion service in our home. Yeah! That's why we did it.

I just love when we can immerse our kids in Biblical stories. A while back I wrote a series of lessons for the kids on the life of Moses. Kind of like the Easter eggs that each contain a symbol from the Easter story, we had a box of objects to remind us of aspects of Moses' life. Then one year, after learning about various Old Testament heroes and the altars of remembrance that they built, we built an altar of thanksgiving to God. We mentioned different ways that He had provided for us through the years as we added each stone to our altar. So it bothered me that Communion, rich in symbolism, was a Biblical act that most churches keep away from children. John and I talked about it and decided that the Last Supper needs to be part of our children's observances.

So I researched the Passover supper that Jesus would have been observing with his disciples the night that he was betrayed and wrote a text for a Last Supper observance that we could use intergenerationally in our home. It combines aspects of the Seder that Jesus observed with the hope that we have in a resurrected Christ. It was offered to the church, encouraging small groups of people to find a way to celebrate Communion in a smaller, more intimate home setting.

But there was one problem: Several people didn't know what to do with the kids in their intergenerational service. Most had not allowed their children to participate in Communion before this night. Not quite knowing why or how to explain my ideas to them, I decided it was time to bring in the big guns so I went to John for some help. Together, we put some order to our thoughts:

"When inviting your guests, you will want to let them know what you have planned. Some people may find the symbolism and service too different for them to participate. You will also want everyone to know that the children will be included in this service. This will likely be a new concept for people and some may find it unacceptable. The following will explain why we believe our children are not only allowed to participate but that they should participate; however, each parent will need to decide this issue for him/herself.

In many churches, as with those in which we were raised, children were not permitted to participate in the act of Communion. They were usually kept in a separate room, sometimes given grapes and crackers as an alternative. Not much about Communion was explained to them. As adults many remember feeling excluded at this time without an explanation as to why.

Obviously, churches have reasons for this approach. Many people quote a passage from 1 Corinthians 11 where Paul chastises the church for receiving the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner:

1 Corinthians 11:28-30 - A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.

We agree that we should examine ourselves when we receive the Lord's Supper and that it should not be taken lightly. However, this passage is often used to imply that only those who have attained some type of spiritual level or understanding can partake of the Lord’s Supper. Some denominations mandate that only those who are members of that particular church, or those who have been baptized, or those who have participated in some type of prerequisite can observe Communion with that particular church body. Before allowing these verses to determine who can and who cannot participate in Communion, we also must understand the context of what Paul was writing about. Earlier in 1 Corinthians 11, Paul was chastising the church because of the wrong way they were eating and drinking (with division in their ranks, getting drunk, etc.), and when he wrote verses 28 to 30, it was in this context that he said that we ought to examine ourselves.

As we have looked into the traditional Seder, or Passover meal; the meal that Jesus Himself was celebrating on the night He was betrayed, we have come to realize how much this tradition focused on children. It was a re-enactment, a retelling, and a reliving of the flight of the Jews from the slavery of Egypt. Jews were immersed in this retelling using many of their senses – HEARING the story repeated over and over again, SEEING symbols from the Exodus and TASTING reminders of that life and that night. One of the significant goals of Passover was to stimulate the children to ask questions. The symbols and rituals served to arouse their curiosity in this process and to ensure their remembrance.

If Jesus commanded us to observe Communion “in rememberance” of Him, then we believe He intended it to pass on the reality of Jesus to the next generation, just as the Seder was passing on the remembrance of deliverance from Egypt. We, too, are in slavery until we accept Christ. Have our children accepted Christ – to the best of their ability and understanding? Could it be that for each of us, young and old, the delineating factor is whether we understand these concepts in an age-appropriate manner? Could it be that for each of us, some farther along in our spiritual journey and understanding than others, the question is not whether we have attained full knowledge, but whether we are willing to look at Christ’s sacrifice and to take another step closer in understanding what it took to save us from our sins?

Since the Bible does not give us a direct answer to this question, we encourage all parents to explore the Biblical passages on Passover and Communion. Speak with your children about these topics as well as their understanding of sin, remorse and forgiveness. If, as parents, you have decided that Communion should be reserved until each child reaches a certain point in his/her walk, an “age of accountability” perhaps, that is fine. Our encouragement to you would be to explain your reasons to your children. Don’t let them feel excluded. Instead, allow each child to feel accepted for who he is and where he is in his spiritual journey. Share with your children the joy you will feel when one day they can join you in a Communion service."

So while we understand that not every family will come to the same conclusion that we did, I am so thankful for a service that helps explain Communion to me and my children. As we celebrate together around the dinner table, we can better "do this in remembrance of me."

And now that we've participated in the making of the bread, we're also one step closer to being real BICers. Thanks for allowing us to invade your home. We had a great time and you're excellent teachers.