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, October 31, 2011

Uganda or bust

The Good Doctor is not a reader. At least not by my definition of a reader: one who chooses to read for pleasure. So imagine my surprise when he read a book and recommended it to me. And then wanted to discuss it. And it wasn't a textbook. Or something pastor-ish or pastor-y or whatever you'd call the books that line his office shelves.

But let me back up. Mariana was given a book entitled, Kisses From Katie, and told that the passion of the young author reminded the giver of Mariana. Mariana was hooked and finished the book in a day. She recommended it to me which is usually the way it goes, or vice versa. Since the Good Doctor can't, or won't, have discussions about books, my daughter fills that role for me. But before I had time to pick it up, the Good Doctor had snatched it and taken it from the house. I had to call him to find out what had happened to the book; so shocked was I that he would actually be reading it, a biography no less. Since he insisted on taking it to work with him, and leaving it there at night, I had to suffer through several days before given the opportunity to partake of this book "everyone" was talking about.

Jedd Medefind, president of the Christian Alliance for Orphans (I honestly don't know who he is but anyone who has a name that rhymes is pretty amazing to me), says of this book: “A breathtaking journey into the sorrow and beauty of abandon to Jesus Christ. Katie Davis is young, still learning daily how best to serve. Yet her reckless, Peter-like love calls the bluff of a Christianity that refers to Jesus as ‘Lord’ with only partial intent of doing what He says. This is not a book to read if you wish for your comfort, convenience, and control to remain undisturbed.”

I couldn't have said it better myself.

After a short mission trip to Uganda during her senior year of high school, Katie Davis knew she was called to the people of this country. She left for Uganda for a longer term just after she graduated from high school. It didn't take her long to find more people and more projects that God was calling her to serve. Within a few short years she took in 14 children, 13 of which she is in the process of adopting. She has started a ministry that provides food and schooling to the children where she lives. And she's still there.

I want to be like Katie. I want my family to be like her; to have a heart of limitless love, to have a faith of limitless abandon, and to have a trust with limitless stepping out of the boat. Individually, each one of us is given this life to serve God. Together, as a family, we can reach the needs of many.

In her book, Katie says it well, “People are people. They all need food and water and medicine, but mostly they need love and truth and Jesus. I can do that. We can do that. We can give people food, water, medicine, love, truth, and Jesus. The same God created all of us for a purpose, which is to serve Him and to love and care for His people.”

And the Good Doctor actually liked this book; he took me on a date so we could talk about it. I wonder why, before we were married, he wasn't so into my stories about adopting 20 special needs kids? But this book changed something inside of him. And maybe he knows something I don't know because his Facebook post yesterday (yes, HIS, Facebook post), said, "One husband and 8 little and not-so-little children are so blessed to celebrate the birthday of their mommy today." Wait, did he say "8"? I know he's the math brains of the family, but last time I counted, there were 7 little and not-so-little children. I thought maybe he slipped, like Hope, and told me what he'd gotten me for my birthday. But I'm still waiting for Child #8. I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, I'm moving to Uganda and adopting 13 kids. Who's with me?

I hear they don't have snow for Halloween.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Dear Isaac,

You couldn't have given me a better birthday gift (I'm not saying that new Wal-mart PJs and a candle aren't great, but there's absolutely no comparison here) than to be baptized on my birthday.

Several years ago you and I were talking about Easter and you shared a desire to ask Jesus into your heart. It's clear that you desire to follow Him. You have your Father's (and your father's) love for people, for closeness, and the ability to look past faults. You forgive and forget. You are a helper. Your faith reflects an innocence and childlikeness that I cherish. I love you very much but there is One who loves you much more than I ever can. He made you and He has a plan for you. I can't wait to see how He's going to shine His light through you today, tomorrow, and in the future.

So Happy Symbol of Rebirth Day to you and Happy Birthday to Me!

See Isaac's baptism video here:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Soup's on!

I do not make lunch for my family. I know, I'm a terrible mother. You can say it. It won't surprise or concern me. I get rolled eyes at least once a week from someone trying to nonverbally tell me just that.

But I know that someday they are going to thank me for not providing this service. When on your own for the first time, who wants to have to pick up the phone to call Mom and ask her how to make macaroni and cheese, or how to fry a burger? Or even to heat up a can of soup?

My refusal to make lunch not only keeps the leftovers from piling up, and me from spending all my time in the kitchen, it also forces our children to learn to make their own food. They can choose to be boring and simple and make a sandwich or they can go all out and make something more complicated. And I love to see them working together and cooking for each other.

So when one of the younger children wanted to learn how to make soup out of a can, I was thrilled. Hey, we all have to start somewhere, right? For sake of anonymity, I'll choose an ambiguous name for this child. Let's go with Lee. And when a pronoun is needed, let's just use the male form. It's Biblical.

Anyway, Lee brought me the can of soup and promptly tore off the pop tab. Uh-oh, not off to a very good start but that's okay; that happens. What do you think you can do about this, Lee?

I just turned my back for a second, honestly, when the next thing I knew, Lee was wielding a very large knife and was about to try ramming it through the top of the soup can. Let's put the knife back, dear.

Once Lee successfully, and safely removed the top of the soup can, I suggested that he try reading the directions. You would think that after years of telling people how to make a can of soup, the food company would know how and in what order to write the directions. Why, oh why, did they start with "Preparation: Promptly refrigerate any unused portion in a separate container"? Lee was busy looking for a separate container when I informed him that he did not need to promptly refrigerate anything YET because he did not have any unused portions at this time. Oh.

Onto the next step: "Empty soup into pan." No problems there; phew!

"Slowly stir in one can of water." Lee got one can of water, quickly poured it into the pan and then v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y stirred his pan of soup. I gave him an "A" for that step. Hey, he DID follow the directions; he probably shouldn't be blamed for faulty language in the directions.

At this point I'm not sure what happened but Lee skipped over the "Heat; stirring often," section and went right to:

"Microwave: Empty contents of can into a microwave-save bowl." This he did and at this point I checked out for a moment. I assumed (I know, never assume) that Lee had decided to microwave instead of heating on the stove. I thought we were home free. I never would have guessed what was really going on in Lee's head until I heard him say, "Add one can of water. Hey, one more can of water won't fit in here with the can of soup and the first can of water." Huh? Ohhhhhhhhh. Wait a minute. Let's back up. Lee, dear, you are supposed to choose either the stove top directions OR the microwave directions, but you aren't supposed to do them BOTH.

The lightbulb came on right then and we had a nice mother-child moment as Lee poured everything back into the pan and proudly (and slowly) stirred his soup over the burner. I smiled as I proudly (and slowly) envisioned Lee out on his own in the real world, successfully (and slowly) stirring his very own pot of soup over his very own stove.

Dreams can come true, right?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

People are more...

People are more important than things.

People are more important than things.

People are more important than things.

This is my mantra of the day. I believe it; I really do. People are more important than things.

Sometimes I just need a reminder. Occasionally I get these twinges of conviction telling me that I have too much stuff. Or that my kids have too much stuff. So a reminder is good.

People are more important than things.

Other times I'm convicted that I'm too sentimental and get too attached to things. Things that were gifts from special people. Or handed down for generations. Or all of the above and hand carried from house-to-house as we moved around. Then something gets broken and I get all upset and ...

People are more important than things.

People are more important than things.

See, I can say it with conviction! People are more . . . *sigh*

Saturday, October 15, 2011

New territory

10 Clues That Tell You It's Homecoming at the High School

You just grew another gray hair.

Your son asks your daughter to go tie shopping with him.

Your son not only cleans, but vacuums, his car.

You are told that due to PSATs and a Cross Country meet on the same day as homecoming, you will need to go to X Flower Shop on X Street to pick up something that your son has previously ordered.

You find that your son has excellent taste in corsage selection.

Because you don't know how to tie a tie, your son goes to youtube for a tutorial.

Your eldest's younger siblings suddenly become very interested in his social life and want to know the meaning of words like corsage and boutonniere. They also want to know why he doesn't find their suggestion of McDonald's to be a good choice for his pre-homecoming meal.

Your son is extremely nervous.

You have a chat with your son, reminding him that he is taking out someone's prized possession and that someday she will be someone else's prized possession; treat her as such.

You find yourself at the home of a wonderful family, taking pictures of their beautiful (inside and out) daughter and your super-extraordinary (inside and out) son.

Yup, must be homecoming.

And yes, as always, I had my son's permission before writing this post.

Friday, October 14, 2011

King Kat

Happy Birthday to our King Kat. So glad you got to celebrate in style.

The traditional breakfast birthday donut didn't burn down before you could eat it. And you were even half awake for it.

Your family was on TV on your birthday. And you made quite a nice article in the newspaper.

You got what you wanted for your birthday. And you've been serenading us ever since.

You even got to celebrate with several dozen girls. And they had all sorts of gifts for you.

King Kat, proud of you as always. And keep on entertaining.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I always thought that it was a bit cliche to hear mothers calling themselves taxi drivers. I thought, "Yeah, so you spend a lot of time in the car. What did you think life was going to be like?" Kind of like those new mothers who are always complaining on Facebook about the fact that their babies cry and have fussy days and don't sleep through the night. Did they really think they were going to be that exceptional in their parenting that they could avoid all that typical newborn business?

But there are some days, when I spend most of my day driving hither and yon, that I, too (cliche or not) am ready to put the taxi sign and a phone number on my car. I mean, if I'm going to be driving all day, I might as well earn some money doing it, don't you think? There are always plenty of extra seats in the van so it wouldn't be a space issue. In fact, I'm considering installing a bathroom in the rear of the van so that we wouldn't even have to make pit stops. That should be a drawing card when trying to turn this into a business.

Take tomorrow for example. Within a 3 hour period, I will have traveled from Mechanicsburg to Harrisburg, back to Mechanicsburg, back to Harrisburg, to Lemoyne, back to Harrisburg, back to Lemoyne, then home to Mechanicsburg. All so the Good Doctor can stay home and watch himself on the telly. Wouldn't it make sense to earn some money from all of this? I could easily pick up clients (are they called clients?) while I'm out and about and drop them where they need to go.

The main advantage to taxiing, actually the only advantage to playing taxi driver, is that I get a lot of reading in. When I'm the stay-at-home parent, I find plenty of necessary things to do, including but not limited to, laundry, vacuuming, general cleaning and picking up, supper preparation, and sibling reconciliation. In the van I can take a book on tape for the trip and I can bring a good old-fashioned book along for the times I'm told to park and wait.

This morning I started a book that my friend, Kym, had recommended to me many moons ago. It took me this long not because I didn't trust her opinion but because my to-read list was too-long and my to-do list was too-immediate. By the end of my taxiing this evening, I find myself with a mere 40 pages left of the almost 200 page book. That's what one extra-long dental appointment and a rainy in-the-dark soccer practice will do for the book-lover's soul.

Obviously I had plenty of wait time today to make headway in my book. But it wasn't just the time factor; I love this little book. I knew I'd like it since I love biographies. A friend once told me that she hates biographies as she has enough adventure in her life. Conversely, then, one must conclude that I have no adventure in my life. None. Nada. Nil.

But apparently Fred Rogers did because one of his friends, Tim Madigan, wrote this delightful story about him. Prior to reading this book, I would have summed up Fred Rogers' life with this statement, "He was a TV personality who wore a cardigan, changed his shoes while he sang to children, liked puppets, and knew the difference between real life and make-believe." 150 pages later I see things much differently. Thanks to Kym and her suggestion to read I'm Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers, I have been informed, entertained, and challenged. I want to encourage more, love more, forgive more, and impact more. I want to follow the example of Fred Rogers.

Don't worry. I haven't given up Tim Hawkins for Fred Rogers. I may want to be more LIKE Mr. Rogers, but I still want to BE Tim Hawkins when I grow up.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


No, I'm not pregnant with twins. Don't even go there. I thanked the Lord every time that ultrasound showed only one baby. I watched two aunts each raise a set of twins. More power to them; God knew they could handle it. I could not. And no, we're not adopting twins, either. Not yet.

But we did celebrate two birthdays today.

Isaac has come to introduce himself at King's Strings concerts by saying, "My name is Isaac and I'm also 10 but I'd like to get this out of the way by saying that Shoun and I are not twins." He usually gets some good laughs from that one. It was originally my joke and he stole it but that's okay. We all have to start somewhere, and his delivery is spot on. That's my kid!

Truly, I was once asked if Shoun and Isaac are twins. To the soccer coach's defense, it was over the phone that he first "met" the boys and he didn't ask birthdates, only ages. Of course, without seeing the boys, and hearing that they were both 10, one would assume that they are twins.

And believe it or not, Eden was once asked if she and Shoun are twins. Funny since they are 4 years apart in age and they don't look a thing alike. But in this young boy's defense, he naively assumed that two people in the same family, sharing a birthday, must be twins.

But twins or not, we did have two birthdays today. Since Eden had already celebrated, today was Shoun's turn.

We started out our day bright and early at 6 AM (Dad had to leave early for church since he was preaching and Mom had to leave early since she was acting) with the traditional birthday donut. Shoun watched his donut disappear under 11 candles as we sleepily sang Happy Birthday.

Then he had to wait 12 more hours to find out who the surprise guests were. Showing little emotion, but clearly happy, he waited outside to welcome his Kenyan relatives to our home for dessert. So much fun! He must have thanked John and me about 10 times after everyone left.

After 2 days of baking and sneaking sugary desserts, it's time for a break. I could honestly feel my pants getting tighter as the day went on yesterday. At least I get a week's break before it's Jesse's turn for all this birthday fuss.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Happy Due Date

We find ourselves in an interesting bind. The first time that we met Shoun, we found out that his birthday not only falls in October, a popular month around here, but it falls on exactly the same day as Eden's birthday. Or should we say, her birthday falls on his birthday? So, you can imagine that these two children have had numerous discussions about who gets to celebrate first and how we are going to deal with this dilemma "fairly" in years to come. Since one of the birthday traditions around here involves getting donuts for breakfast when there's a birthday, we certainly aren't going to start eating two donuts on one day, someone must go a day earlier or later. This year's solution just kind of fell into our laps since other things are going on and life happens. So, the 2011 solution: Eden gets to celebrate today, which also happens to have been her due date, and Shoun gets Sunday, their actual birthday. On a side note, to those who believe that the first baby comes late and subsequent babies come earlier, I would have to concur. My first was two weeks late but Number 5 was only 2 days late; it did get better. And labor? Went from more than 24 hours down to 19. Much easier, that one.

But anyway, on to birthdays. It took us 5 tries but we finally produced a child that received more of my genes than John's. This is the child that is bound to be a teacher. She has all gifts needed to do just that; she loves school, she's organized, creative, crafty, and bossy. Yes, just like her mother. She received a sewing kit for her birthday and was just as thrilled as could be. Did I mention she's just like her mother?
Give the girl paper, a scissors, and tape, and she can create just about anything. It's kind of like what would happen if MacGyver gave up hunting criminals and instead headed a classroom. A recent creation became just the tool she needed to keep her place while reading.She folded a piece of paper in half, then in thirds. She taped all of the sides shut and drew a face. Voila! A puppet.
But one day she couldn't find her bookmark so she grabbed her puppet. Then as she was reading, she unconsciously slipped the puppet onto her hand and began tracking along the page, the puppet leading the way.
She discovered that not only does it keep you from losing your place, as you hold your arm sideways across the book, it also keeps your book from closing. Wow! I think we not only have a teacher here but we can probably narrow the field down to either early elementary or even special education. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, does it?

She recently discovered felt, needle, and embroidery floss. Anyone need a pillow?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Grateful thanksgiving for appreciation

Did you know that...

National Law Enforcement Month occurs during the month of August?
Local Maintenance Employees get a week in December?
February is Plumber Appreciation Month?
May is set aside for teachers?
Jurors are appreciated in September?
June is Improv Coach Appreciation Month?
National Certified Nurse Anesthetists' Week is in January?
Kitchen workers are celebrated in November?
March is Social Worker Appreciation Month?
Rugby Refs are appreciated in July?
Those of you who don't have a job but prefer to volunteer, your month to be appreciated is April?

And of course, the one that I'm sure came to mind during all of this appreciation - October is Pastor Appreciation Month. In what has been dubbed the "worst best-kept secret" at McBIC, the pastors and families were duly appreciated on Friday evening. From VIP parking, to roses, snacks, skits, laughter, and gifts, we felt the love.

But I have to admit, I went into the evening with a large amount of naivete and confusion about what the evening would hold. Apparently I've raised the next generation of ill-informed pastors' children, because we did our best to prepare ourselves but it seems we were way off the mark.

We assumed there would be singing. Of this we were correct. We were incorrect in the song lyrics, though. We somehow assumed that all music would be sung to the praise of the pastors. Something like, "Layne, we lift your name on high...Dave, we love to sing your praises...I'm so glad Doris's in my life... But it kind of fell apart at the "I'm so glad John came to save us" part. We did think that "Sing to the King" might work, but even that had its flaws. We tried a few others but all fell short at some point. Thankfully the event planners had already figured it out and they kept with the lyrics as written.

On a side note, I will admit the King corner of the audience had a bit of trouble keeping straight faces when the first song flung up on the wall was one of the songs we had attempted to rewrite. And I was certain that "Multiply your love" was chosen especially for the King family, a request to add to the numbers of our clan. Hey, if the church says so, who are we to oppose?

But this is where I get serious long enough to thank Stacy, Malinda, the skit writers, host families (especially the Armstrongs), actors, and all other planners and coordinators for the time that went into appreciating the pastors and their families. I had to force my children to go (they didn't share my enthusiasm) but every one of us had a wonderful time. We've enjoyed reading through the many letters and words of encouragement. The gifts will keep us well fed for some time to come. Thank you for the laughs; my voice is still strained from an over-abundance of hilarity. And thank you from the bottom of my heart for announcing to everyone in attendance that Cindy does not like to be touched. This will do one of two things: 1. Keep people from getting too close or 2. Encourage those with a sense of humor to attempt multiple hugs on Sunday mornings. I guess I can let it slide. I am a pastors' wife, after all. Forgiveness is my middle name. Or was it organist? Hospitality coordinator? Or maybe I'm thinking of my Native American name, Hard-Shell-Soft-Heart? Too many names, I can't remember.

Speaking of pastors' wives, my research uncovered the fascinating information that January is Pastors' Wives' Appreciation Month. It seems to encourage polygamy, doesn't it? Oh well, John's dad always said, "Be like Jesus and love 'em all."

If you are wondering when the plumbers' wives' appreciation month is, I'll have to get back to you. I'm still looking for that one on-line.