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!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Out and about

The Kings don't get out much.

Well, you try budgeting for a meal out with a family or nine, or traveling to an exotic location with enough luggage for a baseball team, or even maneuvering a twelve-passenger van through unexplored territory.

So when offered the opportunity for The King's Strings to play for a wedding and reception in Poughkeepsie, New York, we jumped at the chance. Of course we also wanted to bless our actor friends from Allenberry Playhouse, Andrew and Melissa. We have so enjoyed getting to know them while they were in the area and Mariana, Isaac and Eden were privileged to be cast in shows with them. And when we heard it was going to be a theater-themed wedding, we were even more excited.

We spent a lot of time listening to a CD we made of all the wedding music from musicals such as Fiddler on the Roof, Wedding Singer, Sound of Music, West Side Story and Shrek. We can all now sing the CD in order, from beginning to end. When Words Fail and This is Our Story are two new favorites and the van gets awfully noisy when these two pieces come on.

But behaviors like singing boisterously in the van, while acceptable amongst the family, are not always acceptable in public so our four hour trip to Poughkeepsie was interspersed with min-lessons on how to act at a fancy restaurant, during a wedding, and among strangers. Even before leaving the house, the packing list included lessons in what not to wear to certain occasions. In the end, all went well and to the undiscerning eye we may have even looked like we live and travel this way all of the time.

But we know better. Take for example the following episodes which could have meant our secret was out of the bag.

Packing for the trip, one child wanted to know if there were going to be beds in the hotel.
Oh my. This could be a long vacation.

Walking into the luxuriant accomodations of our hotel, one child saw a sign that said, "No Public Restrooms" and was very concerned that we would need to "hold it" for the whole weekend.
I guess we should have included a discussion of the words "public" and "private" before attempting this trip.

During the wedding rehearsal, one son was very thirsty and wanted to know if he could get a drink from the Holy Water "fountain."
Whoops. We forgot to talk about what you will find in a Catholic church.

At the rehearsal dinner, our very large and commercial-looking van needed to be parked between a Beemer and a Lincoln. This called for a quick review of van exiting procedures so as not to touch or knick either vehicle.
Oh dear, looks like that one was a near-miss.

The fancy, stemmed water glasses were a new one. A certain child needed instructions on how to hold the glass without dropping or spilling the contents. Another did spill it. And yet another insisted on wiping sweat off the outside of the glass.
You have to understand that our cupboards are, of course, filled with mostly plastic.

The fried appetizer looked very appealing to our hungry crowd and they chowed down quite eagerly until they found out what it was.
Well, you can't really blame us for not explaining this one ahead of time; even I had never had calamari before (and still haven't). But some of the kids actually liked it.

So much wonderful food came at us during the course of our meal that more than one member of the family had to be rolled back to the hotel room due to a gorged belly.
So some new advice: Eat up kids and digest slowly; this is all you're getting for the week.

Driving from one location to another we passed a blue 1965 Lemans convertible. One child said, "Look at that neat car." John questioned, "The old one?" "No, Dad, the blue one."
Hmmm. Maybe we need to talk about antiques and their value beyond color.

On the same drive, as we drove in the direction of NYC, we were pulled over at a terrorist check. I guess our vehicle, being so large, fit the nation's description of a potential threat. The officer, however, took one look at the back of our van packed full of instruments, with stick figures of all nine of us on the window, and at our license plate with KINGZOO spelled out and decided that our kids were more a threat to their parents' sanity than to America. He told us we could proceed.
Welcome to New York, kids!

The kids sat down at the reception to find champagne glasses filled with the real thing. It took some quick actions to remove the cool-looking drink from the hands of some naive but eager children. Our server was kind enough to permanently substitute said glasses with sparkling cider-filled replacements. Only to have one child down his whole glass before the toast was even one-quarter of the way finished.
Why didn't we think of having a family-only mock toast in the privacy of our own home?

Next order of business was for one child to remove the intricately-folded cloth napkin from the drinking glass and promptly place it on the head.
Clever? Yes, it did look somewhat like a rooster's comb or, with a bit of wishful thinking, a mohawk. Appropriate? Not really.

We had a little trouble with the vernacular of the rich and famous. One child didn't know what a carafe was (and thought the bar tender said "giraffe") so had a little trouble locating the soda that was readily available on our table. Another one ordered ribs when the option had actually been rib-eye steak.
I think I know what our vocabulary words will be this week.

The drink stirrers quickly became musical instruments while waiting for our food.
I know we're a musical family and were hired to provide music for the occasion, but really kids, is that necessary? They are drink stirrers! For your drink. To stir it. And that's it. You don't even need to stir soda. Oh, just forget it.

But all is forgiven. Every one of you handled yourself well and appropriate (mostly) to the occasion. You music was beautiful and well-received by everyone. We even got an offer to play for our server's wedding in Poughkeepsie next June which we unfortunately needed to decline. And just think how much you'll already know when next you are thrust into life beyond our four walls.

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