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!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sewing for three

I'm supposed to be cleaning out the sewing room. It seems that Jesse has had enough of sleeping in the bedroom between the little girls' room and the kitchen. He thinks it's too noisy in the mornings when he's trying to sleep in. I can't imagine why he would think that. But anyway, he's decided he wants to move to the basement. That means I lose my sewing room.

But it's really hard to clean out a room that's full of so many projects. I just have to work on a few of them as they are uncovered.

And when my niece, Molly, asked me to teach her to sew, well, what could I say? No, the room's a mess because the little girls have trashed it and I'm in the middle of going through everything to pack it away? Of course not!

Molly found this great tutorial online but unfortunately my closet didn't have anything that would qualify as a nice skirt for anyone over the age of oh, say, 8. So, we had to go to the fabric store. Really, we did. And I only came out with the items needed for her skirt. Nothing more. Nothing less. I promise. Okay, we did have extra fabric for the little girls but that doesn't count since it was attached to the fabric I bought for Molly's skirt.

Molly did an excellent job on her first sewing project, don't ya think?

I know, the picture would be better if Molly were actually wearing the skirt but I understand, I don't pose for pictures, either.

So I spent my spare time during the next two days (you got me, it wasn't really spare time, but who needs a clean house, dinner, and washed laundry?) working on matching skirts for Eden and HopeAnne. There wasn't quite enough fabric to line them like Molly's so I improvised. What they don't know won't hurt them.

But now I really must clean out that sewing room so Jesse can move into it. Once that happens, I'm certain I can fill his old room with another child or two. But where will I put all my sewing things? I know, the master bedroom!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Don't be scammed!

I love it when people make blog writing so easy.

Yesterday we posted something on Craigslist. We promptly received this reply from John Jose:

"Thanks for the mail, I'm seriously interested in buying this for my Friend as a birthday gift becuase i love my friend and i need to conpensate my friend with the good one thing, hope your is in good condition Like I said I will like to purchase this item for my friend as a birthday gift so kindly withdraw the advert from Craigslist but i will not be able to look at the item or pick it up from your place because i am currently out of the state,I'm representing my company on an official trip, You will be shipping the item to my friend just because I'm buying the item for him and do you have the receipt of the item,

I will offer you $430 for the item and will also add an extra $200 to the money so as to cover the shipping and insurance charges via USPS Express Mail,I will also add an extra $30 to the money to compensate you for sealing a deal with me.

And about the payment, My mode of payment will be through PayPal because it is fast for a safe,secure,reliable transaction and easy to send money online, So get back to me with your PayPal email address or send me a PayPal money request to my email address (contactjohn2020@gmail.com) so that i can send out the payment and as soon as you received the payment you can make the shipment,But if you don't have a PayPal account you can quickly set-up one at(www.paypal.com) it is easy and save and it's free also your reply will be appreciated by me if you get back to me asap..

Looking forward to read back from you shortly.."

So I sent John Jose this note:

"Dear John,

You are a wondefull fiend you are to love your Friend so much. You want to compensate your friend with the one good thing of my computer. Since this is a birthdya gift for your friend would you like me to encase a bithday card wit the gift? i could personally a note for you, too. Of course you will need to give me your friend's address so I can send the one good thing to your friend.

It is wonderful that you are out of state representing your company on an official trip. Your job sounds so impotent. I wish to have good job, too, but no one wants to buy my knitting pot holders no more. And the guards at the White House say I can no sell pot holder at White House. i do not unnerstand.

Wow! You are going to give me $30 more than I ask for my computer? You are good man. There shoulda be more fiends like you. And $200 will be more than enough to covey the shiping expesnes and even to for the personally birthday card. I for to think I need add more special items to box to thank you and friend of loving gestures of more monies.

Your offer comes for such a good time because my wife is dying of rare cancer and that official in Nigeria who said that if I just sent him some cash he would giving to me all the money to put in my America bank account was a bad man and no money come to me. His email sound very much like you. So sincere and believeable. Do you know him, too? And then there was a man who said surprise I win all the money in Maldice Islands lottery so I just have to pay to him money on taxes, fees, shiping, and ensurance on to claim my prize so I did all that just so my wife is living one mor day but my lottery wins never come from Maldice Islands and I don't knw where to find Maldice Islands either. So now we are liquifying all of our ass ets for to pay for her cancer treatment. It mean that my wife will get her rare cancer trement today. Thank you for she to not to die today.

And if you believe all of that I have a bridge over New York City that I can sell to you for $400 cash but I will also except $430 and $200 shipping so that I can send it to your friend so he will have one good thing from you. By the way, I do not accept Pay Pal, or credit cards. I would also not send anything to anyone without payment. Nor would I ever send anything to anyone who cannot write in proper English; it's a dead give-away.

Sincerely,
Your new best friend

P.S. You are now the star of my next blog. Congratulations!"

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A little sewing

Well, this wasn't exactly cleaning out the sewing closet since it was a commissioned craft, but by finally finishing it, I emptied out a space in the sewing room.

When Isaac was just starting second grade, his UpStreet (Children's Church or Sunday School, depending on your frame of reference) leaders were expecting their first baby. Wanting to do something special for them, I asked each child to draw a picture on a small square. I then traced those pictures onto Onesies for the baby.

After Baby #1 came Baby #2 and she also wore the decorated Onesies, although now the designers of the Onesies were in 5th grade. Once Baby #2 outgrew the garments, I was asked to make them into a quilt that the girls could use. The family purchased the fabric, and the rest was up to me.

It was fun to cut out those drawings. I could still picture the time when I sat tracing the original drawings. I also decided to add the girls' names and birth dates.

Since I had asked the family to purchase a sheet set for the backing, I used the pillow case to make a carrying bag.

Left with just a few scraps I decided to make a doll quilt and pillow as well. I added a few orange strips of my own to fill it in (see, I did empty a little out of my sewing closet), and it was finished. In the end I used every last scrap of the printed fabric! Pefect.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Making a musical genius

Dear Laura Sybil,

Just a quick question...at what age did you start the kids on violin? Did they have interest in it when they started or did you just start them? I am thinking about starting my 3 year old but I am not sure he will want to. Do you have any advice?

Sincerely,
Am I Raising the Next Isaac Stern or Itzhak Perlman?


Dear Am I Raising the Next Isaac Stern or Itzhak Perlman?

Thank you so much for writing because questions of this theme come up quite frequently. King's Strings concerts are a common breeding ground for these questions but every other month or so we will get an email or Facebook message with similar queries. So, here is my humble opinion, from someone who has no musical degree and little musical ability but who has parented seven very adorable and talented musicians (it's a God thing).

First, the King family facts. When Andrew was about 3 years old, I dusted off my violin and played the prelude for church. On the way home, he said, "I want to do that." We waited to see if he continued to show interest or if it was a fleeting fascination. He continued to ask so when he was nearing kindergarten, we found a teacher and the rest, as they say, is history.

You knew I couldn't be finished that fast, didn't you? Okay, Jesse was next in line and of course, wanted to do what his older brother was doing so he was next at age 4 1/2. 19 months later Mariana joined the band, also at age 4 1/2. And then there was Isaac. He was 2 1/2 when we moved to Mechanicsburg and the older three children were being auditioned by their (hopefully) new teacher. Ms. Pam agreed to add them to her studio, then turned to Isaac and said, "But I also want this one." I kindly explained that we did not want to start our 2 1/2 year old but she was a very persuasive person and after offering us a tuition break, we figured, why not? We're traveling here, anyway. Bad logic. We learned our lesson. Eden was 4 when she started, and HopeAnne 4 1/2.

Unless the 2 1/2 year old is showing signs of being on the fast-track to Carnegie Hall, don't let anyone convince you that you should start him with lessons. (At this point you can hear all the musicians yelling out their protest. Plug your ears.) Do you want to know how long it takes a 2 1/2 year old Suzuki violinist to learn his Twinkles? ("Twinkles" being the Suzuki way of describing the first five Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star variations that were designed to send mothers of 2 1/2 year olds to the Funny Farm. Hence, the name of this blog.) Two very long years later Isaac was frustrated, I was frustrated, and there are years in there that I don't even remember because of this period of insanity.

Now, if anyone is still listening after I just made my musical opinion known, let me add that I do think early music instruction is essential to later musical success. (Oh, you're back, are you?) I just don't think that early music instruction has to equal early lessons. If at least one parent has at least some musical ability (Can you tap two blocks together or turn on the radio? Then you have at least an ounce of musical ability.), then you can very easily introduce your child to music, and likely already have. Play rhythm games, dance around the room with streamers while listening to music (yes, I did say that), sing songs together, make instruments out of toys and household objects, observe people playing different instruments, etc. If you play an instrument (or used to), haul it out and let your child touch it and make noise with it, with your guidance, of course. Those are the kinds of things that a teacher would be doing with your child in lessons, anyway. Why pay for it?

You also ask if you should start your child, not knowing if he will want to. I wouldn't. At least not yet. Yes, there are some things we choose for our children because we know best. On the other hand, we live in a culture that encourages sending our children into every opportunity out there. My advice to you is to keep introducing different hobbies, skills, sports, future vocations, etc. to your child, but don't translate that to mean signing him up for every team, group, and lesson out there. What are his interests and skills? Where do you see God leading him? Where is he best going to shine? That's where you want him to be.

And one more thing, there is absolutely no one who has to have a family of string players to follow God's will. Except the King family, of course, because that is the mission God has given to us. Your goal, beyond finding the direction your child is to go, is to find the direction your family is to go. How can your family best shine God's light to a dying world? I don't know but I do know that it won't look like anyone else you know. God has uniquely placed each one of you in your family to maximize your ability to reflect His light. Find out what that is and put everything you've got into it. There you'll find joy. Great joy.

Sincerely,
Laura Sybil

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Commissioning you

There was a commissioning service at church this morning. A group of middle schoolers are going to a service project about an hour away to serve local families. The high schoolers are going to Puerto Rico to work with a mission organization there. Our oldest two boys will be on this trip.


It's always exciting to see the kids lined up in the front of the church and to surround them in prayer. Prayers were also sent up for the parents, some of whom are scared to send their kids off on a trip such as this, others can't wait to have a week to themselves. I guess I fall somewhere in the middle. I don't sit around trying to come up with ways to get the kids out of the house, but I'm not scared to send them off, either. A mother who was considering a local service project for her son recently asked me how I can be so at peace sending my children away from home. My response was actually to quote someone else who said, "Sure, something could happen. But bad things could happen to my child anywhere at anytime. While I pray that nothing does happen, it gives me great peace and joy to know that my child is wholeheartedly serving the Lord."

While I enjoyed the commissioning service this morning, and appreciated the prayer that the Good Doctor led for the teams, a thought came to me that made me slightly uncomfortable. During the prayer, the phrase, "we commission you for service to the Lord" was spoken. As I heard those words, my mind immediately went to my daughter, who has never yet participated in one of these summer teams because she has spent her time working in local theaters. What occurred to me is that there are many people sitting in the seats who are in daily service to the Lord, yet receive no commissioning service just because they do not join a so-called missions team. Anyone using 100% of their gifts for the Lord is serving in his or her mission field.

Don't get me wrong. I completely understand why we do not hold church-wide commissioning services for every single person serving God. However, I also know that there are a lot of people who hold to the misconception that they have never really served because they've never left the country, or they've never been part of a team.

So I asked myself how I can help individuals realize the value of their service, whatever and wherever that may be. How can I, or we as a family, commission people we know, to validate the God-given work they are doing? Recently, when the Good Doctor is asked to officiate a wedding ceremony for a Christian couple, he has approached it as a commissioning service of sorts. The bride and groom will continue to serve using their individual gifts, but now they will also combine the gifts that God has given them to serve in a more unique way. I like this. My mind has me brainstorming other ways of commissioning my family; as the children head off to high school in the fall, as they work at after school jobs, as they participate in team sports.

For today, I wrote my daughter a note.

As she goes off to two weeks of theater camp and continues to perform in The Sound of Music, I reminded her that God has given her talent in the performing arts for a reason. Giving any less than 100% in every aspect of camp would mean that she is neglecting her service to the Creator who created her to create. If she uses her gifts at all times, then everything else is in God's hands. There is much peace and joy in that. She is also to serve everyone with whom she comes in contact and to encourage those who need encouragement. I commissioned her for this service to the Lord. (My apologies to every person of the cloth who thinks I took your job. Someone had to do it and you were already busy commissioning others.)

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing."

And for everyone else, in whatever you do, I commission you for service to the Lord (whether a lay person, and a pastor's wife at that, is allowed to do so or not). Consider yourself commissioned. Now go.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Talkin' like the boss

Dear Laura,

I hear you're a family doctor of sorts. Perhaps many sorts.

I have a question for you when it comes to swearing in the home as a legit expression of anger. I mean, afterall, you have to express it so why not that way if no one else hears?

And oh yeah, where was that stuff picked up from anyway? We try to sweep our sidewalk, but my wife thinks it comes from the streets. Me? I think it's comin' through this little (not so little) box in our living room. Perhaps we are numb to the cake boss' less than delectable language after "picking up so much trash" from outside.

Either way, somethin's gotta change...doesn't it?

Sincerely,

Sidney Obediah


Dear Sidney Obediah,

First of all, that's not your real name; I can tell (I have a sixth sense for these types of things). I am going to guess you're Mennonite though, or at least have some Mennonite in you, or there's no way you'd come up with a name like Obediah. Well, I suppose you could be Quaker. I used to have a picture book called Thy Friend, Obadiah, and he was Quaker. Or Amish. But since the Amish don't use the internet, and you sent your question through the internet, then you can't be Amish. Unless, of course, you used your neighbor's computer, which I suppose is an option except that I still don't think the Amish would be consulting Laura Sybil for any advice nor would they need to watch Cake Boss for baking advice.

Secondly, I'm going to assume that the perpetrator of foul language is a child, not a parent. If it's a parent, then you've come to the wrong person. If it's a child, then we can talk.

So? What should your plan of action be?

I'd start by making sure that you and your spouse are on the same page. Do you both agree that swearing in the home is unacceptable? And do you both know why you think so? "Because I told you so," is only going to work so often and not at all beyond a certain age, so you'd better have some very good Biblical and/or moral reasons why you want your children to avoid certain words. I would look at verses such as Luke 6:45b and Ephesians 4:29 to support my reasons for expecting only wholesome talk in my home. If the two of you can't agree, or can't figure out why you don't want your children swearing, then you're going to have a lot of trouble with respect and follow-through.

Next, you will want to have a conversation with your child. For a younger child, simply state what is acceptable and unacceptable. If you have an older child, however, then you are going to want to lay down all of the points you and your spouse discussed. You will also need to state the consequences for any future language infractions.

True story from the King home: When Isaac was three years old, the Good Doctor was in the middle of scolding him for something when Isaac looked his dad in the eye and very seriously said, "You idiot!" Now, I will admit that as parents we both had to take a moment to walk out of the room to control the laughter because it was so unexpected. When we had ourselves in check and did some investigating, we realized that he had learned this from watching 101 Dalmatians; it's one of Cruella Deville's favorite lines when she's mad at someone. We understand full well that "idiot" would not be found on a list of swear words, but it is definitely unacceptable in our home, and certainly so when aimed at a parent. Isaac was reminded that sometimes we see and hear things on TV or in the movies that we are not allowed to repeat. He was told that if we heard that ever again, that particular movie (and maybe others) would be taken from him.

So be prepared to have to cut back on family viewing if the language continues. It is your job as parent to protect your children and to create the best environment for growing into mature, God-following adults. Cake Boss may be your favorite show, but is it worth it if it's promoting unacceptable behavior in your children? But also keep in mind that you can't protect your children from hearing foul language in every situation. So you also need to lay the foundation for moral character on a daily basis. You also have to let your child know that if the behavior continues, even after limiting what is watched, there will be further consequences.

If setting boundaries, saying "no" or the idea of giving consequences are new to you, or if you're just not sure how to go about it, I highly recommend John Rosemond's Parenting By the Book. He suggests that consequences need to be unforgettable or memorable (not abusive or harmful) so that the behavior is less likely to be repeated. Only you know what that might mean for your child. What will be unwanted and therefore, unforgettable to your child? A week without screen time? Cleaning all the bathrooms in the house? Taking the phone for a day? A monetary fine for each infraction? (This one worked in our home for a different type of language problem)

Never a dull moment in the parenting journey, is there, Sidney Obediah? Have fun!

Sincerely, Laura Sybil

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Snorers

For approximately 20 years I've been doing some independent research with a small control group of snorers and have come to some important conclusions that may be helpful to any of you who suffer from this malady or who know someone that does. I, personally, fall into one of the two groups but to protect myself, will not disclose which one.

Snorers know that they snore but have momentary memory lapses when it is discussed. For example, imagine a snorer waking up after a restful night, finding the non-snorer who's been up for hours and has already made and cleaned up breakfast, done two loads of laundry and put it on the line to dry, and transported two kids to appointments, and the snorer asks, "What time did you get up?" The non-snorer responds, "Four hours ago." This leads the snorer to ask, "Why did you get up so early?" At this point the non-snorer should be sensitive to the momentary memory lapse so instead of snarling, "Because you were snoring, Dear," you can instead respond with a death glare (known in my house as The Bauman Stare).

If you know someone who always answers, "I'm tired" when asked how he or she is, that's probably a snorer. Again, that momentary memory lapse keeps the snorer from remembering that the spouse is actually the exhausted one.

Snoring increases with age. Except in the case of three year old snorers. In such a young age, it is possible that the removal of the tonsils by a trained medical professional will stop the snoring.

Snoring appears to be a form of white noise for the snorer who can always sleep through it.

Snorers are very kind and generous people and want you to wake them up when they are snoring so that they can move to another area of the house, thereby allowing you a quiet and peaceful sleep.

Snorers do not want you to wake them up by pinching their nose shut. Snorers do not want you to fling your arm over in a slight slap to wake them up. Snorers do not want you to kick them to wake them up. They do, however, say that they'd like you to yell their name to wake them up.

Snorers do not wake up when you yell their name. They do roll over, stretch their feet and crack their toes in an apparent attempt to convince the air to better circulate from room to nose to heart to toes and back to nose, before resuming the snoring pattern.

If you are able to wake a snorer who then moves to the room below you, make certain the sofa or most comfortable sleeping location is not directly under your bedroom or you will not only be kept awake by the noise but by the intermittent vibrations of the floorboards.

Snoring runs in families. Just ask your in-laws and nieces and nephews. They will be happy to tell all. Or have the whole family together for a reunion. Gives new meaning to the terms, "Musical family" and "Family band."

Monday, July 9, 2012

More mean parents

Dear Laura Sybil,

First of all, great piece on June 21 concerning screen time! It drives me crazy that so many parents are worried that their kids will think them 'mean', so they don't set limits. I had a great discussion with our adult children recently. Many of their friends in middle school and high school would tell them they thought we were 'too strict' but our children said they never really perceived it that way (at least in retrospect). The screen time and other rules were laid down early on, not some later haphazard injunction, so it was just part of the way it was in our house. And in the broader context of a loving, supportive, Christian home they really never felt they were missing out. It may get harder and harder to stand against the tide (no one had phones when my kids were in middle school, much less 'data plans'), but I think the principles apply.

Secondly, I'd like to see you write more on the issue of screen time safeguards which you touch on just briefly in the June piece. I think the word needs to get out there that many parents wait until too late to start thinking about Internet safety. I work with teens and once took it upon myself to do an informal poll of high school and middle school kids. I asked those I knew were comfortable enough to disclose to me, and MOST of them said they had first been exposed to pornography in 5th or 6th grade. There was some correlation between earlier exposure and those who struggle with ongoing 'addiction' as well, which is a whole other discussion. It is also startling to me the number of teen girls who now struggle with pornography.

Porn is everywhere, which is so sad to me. It virtually always starts by a curious click on something when they were looking for something else. I think it's safe to assume that unless parents have been very proactive about preventing it, most kids will have seen porn by 8th grade and usually sooner. Sadly, many of the kids who have ongoing exposure have parents that are unaware. The devices (iPod, iPad, smart phones) complicate matters even more. People usually block their home computers, but the wi-fi network is still unblocked. You can put blockers on the devices, but I am told they are often easier to bypass than the computer blocks.

Sincerely,
Older, Wiser, and Yes, I Was a Mean Parent



Dear Older, Wiser, and Yes, I Was a Mean Parent,

I don't think I need to write a post today; you have written it for me. This topic touches so many families and you raise many good points. Even if your research wouldn't pass any doctoral dissertation standards, I know many pastors, counselors, doctors, youth leaders, teachers, and anyone working with children, who would be able to back it up.

I have wanted to write about this for some time but have always chickened out. I don't know why. I know there's a problem and it touches too many families. It's touched my family. It doesn't matter who and it doesn't matter what. But I know the pain and sorrow I have felt as a parent, watching a child struggle with this issue. All because of an accidental click. And this in a good Christian family (at least I think so) with no computers or TVs in the bedrooms, blocks on the computers, basic cable, prehistoric phones that (go figure) make phone calls only, and instruction in what's right and wrong. If it can happen with all of those safeguards, then families without safeguards might want to think again about how safe they really are.

So many times I've wanted to get on my soapbox and bring up this topic to other parents. I want to warn them, to protect them, to tell them the dangers, and how it happens before you think it will happen. A few times I have but for the most part, I don't think parents believe me. They want to believe that they're good parents (and I'm sure they are) so it won't happen to their children. I hope they're right.

But if anyone is listening now, my first advice would be to talk to your kids. Always talk to your kids. Keep the lines of communication open. Talk about guarding your hearts and your eyes. Safeguards won't be any good if we don't combine them with conversation and spiritual training. Because no matter how "safe" you think your home is, it's more vulnerable than you think. And there will always be somewhere else; the library, movies, friends' houses, college, that first apartment away from home, etc.

Secondly, take as many precautions as you can. Realize that it will never be enough, but doing nothing isn't going to be enough, either. There are many computer blocks and filters out there. We use a free one called K9 Web Protection. With it we can filter, block, and determine when the internet comes on and goes off. It slows the computer down terribly, but every time I have to sit and wait for a website to load, I thank the Lord that there is a method to keep evil at bay in my home. Same goes for when I have to unblock a certain website for a child to do research or a school project. It's worth the walk to the computer. Yes, our children are technologically smarter than we are and can find their way around many blocks and filters, so that's when you go back to point number one above.

And when that dreaded moment comes and you find that pornography has invaded your home? Be full of grace. I think it's okay to share your disappointment but remember that none of us is free from temptation and sin. I think the best "discipline" or follow-through is to help your child set up some accountability. Find some older adults with whom your child can share and have on-going accountability. And again, be willing to ask the tough questions yourself and hear your child's thoughts. Above all, forgive and go on.

Hoping that at least one family listens to you and me,
Laura Sybil

Friday, July 6, 2012

My dad's book

While at the beach this summer I experienced a first. No, I didn't wear a bikini. Nor did I go surfing. And I certainly didn't come face to face with a shark.

I did, however, borrow a book from my dad. Me, the book lover, swiped a book from my dad, the man who rarely read while I was growing up and who even now prefers audio books to the paper version.

But while at the beach he kept talking about this book he was reading and he continued to steal moments to read just another page while we were between activities. I expected to hear, "Just one more chapter," when I called him to dinner which would have been a nice turn-around since that's what my family remembers me saying. So when he got up from his beach chair to take HopeAnne into the ocean, I snagged that book and started reading. Until he returned and I had to give it up. Lucky for me he didn't take it along to the Mets game the next day so I got a whole day to finish that book. I would have been very upset if I'd had to return home without reaching the end.

The book, which I highly recommend, is Hiking Through: One man's journey to peace and freedom on the Appalachian Trail by Paul Stutzman. My initial interest came, of course, from my dad's enthusiasm. Beyond that, however, I'm intrigued with the trail, which criss-crosses several roads we traverse on a regular basis. Last year I found a chapter book that I read to the children, Halfway to the Sky by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. And just maybe, there's a small part of me that wishes I was adventurous enough to say I had tried something like a thru-hike.

The author begins his journey as part of the healing process after the death of his wife. He finds that he's not the only one hiking for this reason and writes the book to encourage husbands and fathers to cherish every moment with their loved ones. But his writing is so engaging that it will strike a chord with many readers for a variety of reasons. Some may identify with the grieving process, others with the adventurous side, and still others with an interest in the trail.

And if you're Mennonite, or used to be Mennonite, you should read this book because you'll likely find out that your best friend's uncle worked with a woman who went to the Mennonite high school with the second cousin of the author. Or maybe your husband, like the author, is a descendent of the Hochstetlers and Stutzmans who formed the first organized Amish Mennonite Congregation in America in 1740 but which was disbanded following an attack by Native Americans. The author passed very close to the memorial in Pennsylvania on his walk north. The husband passes nearby every time he travels east on Route 78. Doesn't mater the connection, I'm sure there's one there.

I had lunch today at a cafe in a trail town. Seated at one of the tables was a bearded man with overloaded backpack. I wanted to ask him his story and why he was on the trail. But I didn't. Maybe he'll write a book so I can read it someday.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

21 years

You'd think that the lazy, hazy days of summer would be perfect for writing blog posts. Or that once on vacation I'd just sit and type. Not so. It' actually pretty hard to see the computer screen when sitting on the sunny beach.

We've been enjoying some nice time away. We decided to splurge on a Broadway musical for our 21st anniversary on the 29th. Being the unconventional wife that I am, I also insisted that we stop at a thrift store on the way there, between breakfast at my favorite Lancaster County smorgasbord and dinner at The Melting Pot (My personal opinion - The food was delicious and it was great because we had a gift card. If we hadn't? So not going there again. People really pay that much for a meal? Seriously? I cringe when all 9 of us splurge for a meal out and the bill gets that high!) before on to the big city to see Newsies (highly recommend it).

Along the way, we did actually have some nice conversation. We talked about how the weather was just like the day of the wedding, high 90s with a heat index of 105 (although we didn't talk about heat indexes back then, but if we had I'm sure it would have been that high). Feeling a lot like the Good Doctor, I asked a counselor-type question, "So, if you could change anything about our wedding day, what would it be?" Hmm, good conversation starter. His first answer? The weather.

Okay, how about something that you really could change? I suggested making it simpler but my better half reminded me that it was pretty simple to begin with. Yes, but it could have been simpler.

Now that I know you don't need any attendants, we'd probably opt out of that one. Not that we don't like the friends and family who stood up with us, but why make them buy clothes they're only going to wear once when it's not necessary? And if we did decide to have one or two attendants, we'd probably have the guys wear suits or maybe skip the suit coat and just complete the outfit with a tie.

Even though it's a little selfish, I'd still have the reception outside. My apologies to all the friends and family who went home wringing wet from the heat and humidity. But maybe we could have gotten another tent so that you didn't have to sit in the sun. But then that wouldn't be simpler so I guess you'd just have to suffer even if we did get a re-do.

There was that song in the middle that got a little long. It probably should have been cut from the plans. Or we should have found something to do during that interlude. Staring into each other's eyes got old real quick.

And since the church didn't have air conditioning, we should have asked the pastor to limit his talk to 10 minutes or less instead of the 20 he went with.

Oh, and we both decided that if we had it to do over again, we would have trusted God a little more with the timing and gotten married a year earlier. The college we attended didn't have married housing and anything in town was priced too high so we decided to wait until after graduation. And then right before our senior year, the Good Doctor was offered a position as hall director. You guessed it, complete with his own apartment. Eighteen months was just too long to be engaged. But it did give me time to make my wedding dress so maybe it wasn't so bad after all.

And by the way, did you know you were supposed to bless us with brass and nickel since we've been married 21 years? Who knew?