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!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


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.

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