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!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Follow, follow

Shoun loves to go hiking thanks to a great friend who took him hiking a while back. He has a picture from this day that he keeps on his dresser. Thanks, Uncle Jerry, for introducing him to this great past time! Because of this interest, we've been doing a bit more hiking than we used to. Since the Appalachian Trail goes right through our backyard, it's a natural choice. Okay, it doesn't exactly go through our backyard. But close enough to enjoy it often.

The other day, John and the kids met up with a hiker whose Trail name is Turtle because she's carrying a turtle with her from Georgia to Maine.

Tonight it was six of us: John, me, Shoun, Isaac, Eden and HopeAnne. We must have looked like Mr. and Mrs. Mallard and their rhyming crew in Boston Public Gardens as we followed the trail single file through fields and woods. Instead of Make Way for Ducklings maybe we should write Make Way for Kinglings? Then someone got the bright idea to play Follow the Leader. What a sight we must have been as we "flew", jumped, marched, and patted trees in a quest to follow the leader. The best scene by far would have been watching us all scratch our derrieres in response to the leader's cue.

Nothing like a good hike to bring out the kid in all of us!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Penguins

Maybe reading Mr. Popper's Penguins AND watching the movie was a little too much for my girls. Today I found them making nests and playing "penguin." They even froze water in cups in the freezer to make themselves feel more at home in their nests.

In the absence of snow and rocks, their nests were made of flowers pulled from my bushes and various plants around the house. It's a good thing I'm not all that into gardening and landscaping or this could have been cause for a maternal conniption. At our house, however, creativity trumps greenery mutilation every time. As Tony Campolo was famous for saying, "It'll grow back." Yes, it will. And if it doesn't, it will just join the many other plants and shrubs which found their demise at the King home.

We did make certain we cleaned up as much of the evidence as we could before Mr. Popper returned home; he's not as fond of creative nest-making as the Mrs.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Thirteen

I just came across this blog that I had started way back on May 25, the day after Mariana and I returned from two days away in celebration of her 13th birthday. I started the blog immediately because so many people had asked for more specific information about each of our rites of passage. Since it all started with the idea to purposefully celebrate at age thirteen, I thought this would be a good time to share. However, here we are a month later and I have come to the realization that a title is as far as I got. And it's not really a very creative title, at that. It could have been worse. You should see how far behind I am on the kids' scrapbooks! And my sewing pile. And spring cleaning. . .

Age thirteen. The year of the teen-ager. For us, this one begins a few years of three teen-agers in the house. I won't mention the fact that in 2 1/2 short years we will have 5 teen-agers in the house. Although one of them will likely be on his way out so maybe that will slow my aging process a little? Probably not.

Starting with Andrew, our tradition of age thirteen has included 2 - 3 days away. We've always gone to the beach house in Ocean City, NJ, although I do have a dream of taking Eden to the Eden Resort in Lancaster. No reason, other than the name. The guest list always includes the birthday child, a parent, a grandparent, and a mentor or role model important to that child's life. While the categories remain the same, the invited members vary depending on whether the birthday child is a son or a daughter. Do the math and you'll see that this was my first opportunity at the Thirteen Year Blessing since our older teens are boys.

For each child the weekend is centered on 1 Timothy 4:12: Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. The three adults (parent, grandparent, and mentor) divide the areas of speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity among themselves. At various times throughout the weekend, the group comes together to discuss one area at a time. The chosen adult begins the discussion with whatever has been prepared but then all chime in as they are led. I cannot speak for the boys' weekends away, but I can say that for Mariana, the conversation was blessed, inspirational, forthright, and valued.

We also take a symbol of purity to present to the child during this segment. For the boys this has been a watch inscribed with the words "God's timing is perfect." Mariana couldn't decide if she would prefer a ring or a necklace, fearing she would be more likely to lose a ring. In the end, we got her a ring with a nice chain so she can wear it either way.

Depending on the child, time of year, and availability, each child is also taken to some sort of a special activity in the Philadelphia/New Jersey region. A sporting event and Cirque du Soleil were past entertainment. For the women this year, we went to a spa and each received a massage and facial.

Of course there's also plenty of down time as well with walks on the beach, a movie, lighter conversation and food.

This has become a treasured part of growing up for each of the three older children. And the younger ones are already counting downt he years until they are able to enjoy this tradition for themselves.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hello Dolly

I'm putting in a plug for our friends at Allenberry Playhouse.

So if you're in the Central PA region between now and July 24, or if you're willing to make a trip to the Central PA region in the next month, you'll want to stop by to see this show.

It has it all - family friendly, excellent costumes, amazing acting, and the best leads as Dolly and Horace (so glad you're back, Paris!). The only thing it's missing is a King kid or two, but we won't hold that against them.

Well, and a great story line, but they didn't write the show, that was done 60 years ago or so.

Monday, June 20, 2011

X

On occasion it is necessary to stop everything and devote a parenting moment or two to specific life lessons. At times we have had to have door closing lessons, toilet seat lowering lessons (John took over this one), and towel hanging lessons. The other day I found that it was time for a towel hanging refresher course.

It all started when it came to my attention that the older boys were not using the towel racks provided to them. Further detective work brought me to the conclusion that they were not even using their own towels but they were instead just stealing (during interrogation they preferred to use the term "borrowing") from the little girls' racks.

I've tried to be so helpful by providing labeled towel bars; so everyone knows which rack belongs to him/her. I admit that Jesse had not yet received a letter by his rack but since he recently moved to the main floor, and thus transferred to the main bathroom, I should be forgiven for the lateness.

So, when all else fails, it's time for a new lesson. I called the boys in for their refresher course, otherwise known as "Towel Hanging, 201." As I went over the basics in towel selection, folding, and hanging, Jesse went into panic mode. Apparently the absence of an identifying letter was too much for him; he couldn't handle the freedom to choose his own towel bar. I tried to make it as appealing as possible, suggesting that since he is taller than Andrew, he could just take the top rack. Alas, even that seemed too difficult for him to handle. I actually appreciated his honesty so that we could get to the bottom of the problem. And this was indeed an easy one to solve. I found the pack of sticky letters, only to find that we were out of "J's". One could assume that either A. We use a lot of identifying letters in this house or B. The letter J isn't deemed as important as A, M, S, E, and H and we didn't have as many to begin with, or the answer may possibly be A. and B. Anyway, in the absence of another "J", I did the only thing left to do: I chose the letter "X", for "Child formerly identified by J." I explained this to Jesse as simply as possible and he seemed to understand.

What I didn't understand was that this started a labeling frenzy among my boys. I came into my bathroom later in the evening, lifted the lid (see, that lid lowering lesson did work), and found that someone had labeled my toilet.

No problem, I got the last word. On their toilet.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The best dad

There are a lot of would-be parents in our house. They tend to come in the female variety, trying to act as mother to younger (and sometimes older) siblings. It never works well. I've gotten to asking the perpetrator if she would really like to be the mother. If so, I would gladly trade all of the mother-roles for a day. Faced with laundry, dinner, cleaning, etc., it's funny how quickly a young girl will decide that bossing her siblings isn't quite as much fun. Of course there are times when the male counterparts also try to parent a sibling or two. It doesn't work any better this way than the other way around. And they, too, are quick to refuse my offer of all parenting responsibilities for a day.

However, an interesting conversation occurred yesterday whereby Andrew was praised for his parenting skills. Here's how it went as I was getting ready to leave the house for a few hours:

Shoun: Mum (that's me), the girls won't listen to Isaac and me outside and they keep going in the road.
Mum: Could you please tell the little girls to come to me?

After a few moments...
Hope: Yes, mom?
Mom: Girls, are you going in the road when the boys have told you not to? And when you know that you are not allowed to go in the road if an over-11 year old is not with you?
Eden: But how are we supposed to ride our bikes?
Andrew: You could ride them in the house (said tongue in cheek, as a point of gullibility training).
Mom: You could ride them in the driveway or you could wait until I get home to ride them in the road.

After a few moments, in come the little girls with scooters and bikes.

After riding up and down the hall a few times . . .
Hope: Andrew, I love you! You're the best dad ever.
Mom: Well, Andrew. I'm leaving. You're in charge now. If I were you, I'd remove the bikes and scooters from the house before the real dad comes home; I don't think he'll find the humor in this like we do.

It reminded me of a quote from The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma. Written by the daughter of a librarian, the author remembers with fondness the many years her father spent reading to her. Each chapter weaves memories of those read-alouds with memoirs of her childhood. Any parent who reads aloud to his or her children will enjoy this book. The quote that relates to Andrew's parenting technique came when Ozma's father was trying to justify something he had done when she was growing up. She wanted to know how purposely joking around with a child could fit into a parent's philosophy of child rearing. He responded by saying, "It doesn't [fit into a philosophy]. Sometimes being a parent is just fun."

I couldn't agree more.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The muddle

I just have to share the cutest book we found at the library last week. We can't decide if it's best enjoyed as a read-aloud or as an independent reader. Some sections are enjoyed best when seen in print while others were better appreciated as we discussed them further.

The book is A Beginning, A Muddle, and an End by Avi and it's subtitled The Right Way to Write Writing. It's the best almost-plotless book you'll ever read.

And at only 164 smaller-sized pages, it won't take much time away from that meaty summer read you're really into.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Do you canoe?

Well, I just dropped my 14-year old off at camp for the week. Prayers appreciated for him as he spends the week canoeing down the Delaware. I know he'll love it as this kind of thing is right up his alley. The more adventurous, the better. A chip off the old block. Like mother, like son, I suppose.

Don't believe me? Well, I have mentioned on numerous occasions that I am not the least bit adventurous. My idea of excitement is to pick up a good book and to get lost in it. If I'm feeling like taking a huge risk I might rent a movie to experience some vicarious adventure. And a great adventurous vacation would be some combination of the above while at the beach. In New Jersey.

But I have to admit that there have been times in my life when I have surprised even myself. One of those times was when I volunteered to be the female counselor on a week-long canoe trip in New York. That was the week of the crash-course in rowing, steering, portaging, and living on the water so I could co-lead a group of teens through the rivers of New York.

It all started about 30 years ago (boy, does that make me sound old, or what?) when my parents took our family and a group of young adults to a church camp in Vermont called Bethany Birches Camp. It was a work trip and our job was to ready the camp for the summer camping season. I fell in love. With the camp, not a person.

In 4th grade I had tried church camp in the Poconos. That was my one and only year as a camper and I hated it. First of all, the food was disgusting and I nearly starved to death. Secondly, all they did was have competitive sporting tournaments between cabins. I'm not competitive nor athletic. I almost got killed by a wayward street hockey stick. Third, the place was filled with the same folks who didn't give me the time of day 9 months out of the year. They certainly weren't going to change their habits for 1 week in the summer, even if they were told in daily devotions and firesides that their behavior was unacceptable. I almost died from loneliness.

So who would have guessed that I'd fall in love with a camp? And certainly no one would ever have guessed that I'd end up returning there for two summers, first as a junior counselor and second as a counselor. And the biggest surprise of all came when I volunteered a third summer, to fill the vacant position of canoe camp counselor.

Believe it or not, I loved each of my summers at Bethany Birches Camp. This was no sissy camp, either. No cabins here; we slept in shelters. No flushing toilets; we shoved leaves down a hole to create compost. No cafeteria for meals; each meal was lovingly and painstakingly cooked by moi over an open fire that I started myself. In fact, at the end of one week my campers created a wonderful remake of the song The Other Day I Met a Bear with a chorus that highlighted my fire-making talents: She lights the fire with just one match. We're proud of her. We won't send her back. Who said I didn't have any noteworthy achievements in my younger years?

By the third summer, however, I needed to make more money than a church camp could pay their staff. That summer I worked in daycare at a local church. The church always closed the daycare for one week while the church held VBS. I used the excuse to contact Bethany Birches and to offer my services for the week. I envisioned myself in many different roles, but none of those visions included canoeing. But, we already know how that turned out.

So to Jesse, as you head off to the great unknowns of the Delaware River, I have this advice: Make your mother proud!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Yearbook time again

It's the time of year for yearbooks. They mean so much to you when you get them. Maybe you look at them for a year or two. Four, if you're really into that thing called high school. Then they sit on a shelf somewhere in the home in which you grew up. Until your mother passes them along because she's redoing your old bedroom. Then they sit on a shelf somewhere in your house. Until your children pull them out and look at them. Presumably because it's the time of year for yearbooks.

So imagine my surprise when my daughter finds my picture in my senior yearbook with this caption: "Brad Moyer and Cindy Bauman do the hand motions to the song, "Bananas for the Lord." (My apologies to Brad Moyer for bringing him into this.)

I have no recollection of this moment in time. But it doesn't take a doctoral candidate in psychology to figure out that there's probably a good reason I blocked this from memory.

This statement begs so many questions.

What would have possessed me to get on the high school stage to do the motions to this song, or for any reason other than orchestra?

What is this song? Thanks to youtube we did find a song possibly fitting this description - being sung by preschoolers. Which leads me to the next question:

Why this song in high school?

How did Brad and I get suckered into doing this? I may have been at the bottom of the high school ladder and therefore easy prey but Brad was right there at the top of his grade, later becoming a doctor and all. He was my neighbor and drove me to school but I can't think of any other reason why the two of us might have been elected to do this strange thing.

Why am I singing? In public? (In a school that valued/values singing ability right up there with athletics -Mennonite, remember - how on earth did I, a non-touring choir member get this job? Brad, at least, could sing.)

When was this performed? Chapel? If so, what theological point were we making? If not chapel, then what?

Why did this get chosen for the yearbook? Did nothing else exciting happen that year?

I have since become allergic to bananas. Could it have been some sort of prophetic word?

So many questions and no answers. I guess I'll have to add it to my list of questions to ask God someday. Bananas, really?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Steppin' up

Congratulations to my "Step Up to High School"-er!

I'm not sure why they don't just call it 8th grade graduation. Not that I think we need an 8th grade graduation. It's pretty long and boring, and pointless, if you ask me.

But on the other hand, if I'm this much of a basket case when my 2nd child steps up to high school . . .

what am I going to be like when each child graduates from high school?

I guess I'll find out in two years.

And then of course there will be college graduations.

And weddings.

And grandchildren.

Oh my. Maybe we should buy stock in Puffs.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

She's 5!


Still petite, our little preemie turns 5 today! We've come a long way from the days when she refused to eat. We still have moments of, "Hope, please take one more bite," while she's too busy checking out the world around her. But today the donut went down quick and easy - and not just the icing.

And we most certainly cannot forget that it's her birthday since she's been smiling since she got up, insisted on wearing a dress (which she claims I said she could do for her birthday), constantly reminds us that it's her birthday, and can't wait until supper so she can get her gifts and eat her cake. Poor Andrew was bombarded as soon as he walked in the door from school with, "Andrew, it's my birthday!" As if he could forget that he had to wake up a little early so we could coordinate our schedules to partake in the King family birthday tradition of breakfast donuts for all.

And so we celebrate with our HopeAnne who wants to be a "caker" when she grows up so she can make cakes for birthday parties.

On this day we celebrate with a pink cake for our pink-crazed daughter!

We celebrate with the little girl who reminded us that Jesus takes our fears and they just fly away.

We love you, HopeAnne, Hope, Hopie, Hoppie, Hop, Hopester, HopieAnnie, or whatever else you may be called...

Of course the new shoes went on right away!