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!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Collector

While remodeling the basement, I decided I should probably start to go through all those old teacher files in the tall filing cabinet.  Do teachers even have filing cabinets anymore?  Seems to me that so many of these things could be stored in online files.  Handwritten hand-outs?  I doubt it.  So File 13 it is.  But what fun to find all sorts of forgotten items like...

...My Valentine's Day bag, labeled Mrs. King so all the children could place their well-thought-out and carefully chosen (not) Valentine's for me on the day of love.  I actually used to have all of those Valentine's, too.  I used to put them around the borders of my bulletin boards for Valentine's Day.  But we've since used them for various February craft projects.

...Pictures from my pen pal from Germany.  Oh my!  I don't know why I still have these.  Jutta Kuhlmann, if you still have the pictures I sent you in return, please discard them right now.  They can't be pretty.

...My letter book from 6th grade creative writing.  Appropriately titled, "J - The Wonderful Letter!"  My writing skills were clearly much better than my drawing skills, even in 6th grade.  I think my favorite page has to be the tongue twister where I came up with, "Jumpin' Junipers!  Jealous jason umped judiciously."  And to think, I came up with judiciously all on my own, long before the internet which would probably make this assignment much easier.  It also made much better use of the letter J theme than my limerick page:

There once was a girl named Jane
Who walked to school in the rain
She started to turn red
And ended up in bed
With a very terrible pain.

...Lots and lots of bulletin board idea files.  I am willing to bet that teachers no longer trace a bulletin board picture onto an overhead to enlarge it onto a piece of paper on the wall.  Too bad; that was one of my favorite things to do.

...The Noah's ark stencil that I did in our first nursery and then again in our next house's play room.  Then I heard Tim Hawkins talk about how crazy it is to put cute-sy Noah's ark designs in a child's bedroom.  More people died than lived in that story; not exactly a great bedtime story.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Blackmail

I had an idea for today's post but then didn't get around to taking the picture to go along with it.  But then I was on the Good Doctor's Facebook account (yeah, what of it?) and found the perfect source for a post.

I've always known that the Good Doctor was something of a lady's man, BC (Before Cindy).  His family doesn't have many family photos, especially of Child #5, but of the few they snapped, John is surrounded by girls in most of them.  Apparently he was just following orders as his dad was known to remind his sons, "Be like Jesus and love 'em all."

You have to be careful about the kinds of things others tag you in.  Someone from his high school class, who must have attended the same summer camp as John, recently uncovered this letter in a box and decided to post it.  I owe this woman a lot of money; I shall be using this in so many ways in the near future.  There's no denying that his signature is right there, first on the list.  I haven't done a full handwriting analysis but I'm pretty certain he was also the transcriptionist.  Oh, this should be fun!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

They love me

Two little girls were having a little trouble getting along.  I told them to choose a task out of the "Uh oh, we were fighting so now we have to work together..." jar.  Would you believe, they fought through that assignment as well?  So, they had to pick again.  The second time around they chose this task:  Together, compose a list of 10 reasons you love Mom.  Oh, fun.

Between them, these are the reasons they love me (you can probably figure out which ones were written by the 6 year old and which were written by the 8 year old).

1.  BKOS SHIE IS THE ABE2T MADOR

2's.  S's.  Same thing, right?  I believe this says that I am the best mother, as in "Hello Mudder, Hello Fadder" from the popular camp song.  Or it could say that I'm the best matador.  The author couldn't remember.

2.  She gives me lots.

I'm not sure what I give lots of, but it appears to be appreciated.

3.  I LOV U MOMMY VR HF

She loves me very half?

4.  I LOV U Y FOL MIE HRT

Stick with me here but I think it says, "I love you wif all my heart."  Those y's and w's get her every time; I even saw her peeking at the alphabet chart but I don't think it helped.  And spaces between words, who needs them?

5.  She plays games with us.

I'm not sure if she's referring to board games or head games.  Because I admit to doing both.

6.  MOMMY IS BE2T MOMMY BKO2 HELET ME VI2IT MOME SHEDO

Don't worry, I had a little trouble with this one, too.  It was interpreted by the author as, "Mommy is the best Mommy because she helped me visit Mommy Chanda."  Mommy Chanda is her birthmother and while Hope doesn't remember visiting her, we have pictures until Hope was 1 1/2.  Yes, that one melted my heart.  And continues to do so each time I read this.

7.  She gives me food.

This may not mean much to you but since it came from the child who refuses to eat at least half of my meals, I'll take it as a compliment.

8.  She tells me what to do.

Glad you like it.

9.  She helps me when I am sick.

Yeah, we just had the flu around here.

10.  I LOV U BKO2 U ODOPT ME

She loves me because I adopted her.  I think I'm going to cry.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Isaac, the tailor

A long time ago, a woman name Mrs. Danehower taught me to sew.   Actually, my mother taught me to sew but then she started doubting her own abilities and decided that I should learn to sew "the right way" so she sent me to 4-H.

Mrs. Danehower opened her basement to all us girls.  She was an interesting woman, you could say.  But boy could she sew!  And as fate would have it, I was now under her tutelage as a member of the Lansdale Lassies.  A member not for long but soon-to-be president of the esteemed Lassies.  Oh dear.  That name makes even my eyes roll.

Mrs. Danehower, a former home ec. teacher in the local junior high (right, Kym?), had rows upon rows of machines in her basement.  The older 4-Hers, Lassies if you will, did their sewing in that dungeon.  The newbies (Lassie-ettes?) used portable machines on the porch.  It was much nicer up there.

Every first year 4-Her made a tote bag.  For toting things.  Of course.  I still have my instruction book.  I do not have the tote bag.  I do remember that it was blue and I put a pocket on one side and stitched a dog patch to the pocket, of course.  I had time to spare so I made some slippers as well.  They were purple, of course, made out of washcloths.  Cute little things.  I don't have them anymore, either, but would you look at that Polaroid?

Well, enough about me.  The other day, when someone mentioned FCS, the new and improved way of saying home economics (and to think I considered home ec. as my college major - how would it feel to major in something that is now obsolete?), I realized that Isaac is about that age.  In fact, he brought it up by saying, "I'd like to learn how to sew."

Really?  Well then, hook that boy up with a machine!  As a beginner, I suppose he should have been relegated to the porch but it's a little cold for that so yes, we sewed in the basement, like the big kids.  A tote bag should have been the first project but Isaac was more in need of a sleeping bag case so we improvised - a sleeping bag tote case.  Or Or would it be a tote bag sleeping case?

Not bad for the first project and two days of sewing.

Now on to some washcloth slippers?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Another 12 year old

It's another birthday day in the King house!  We have another 12 year old.  Now the boys can go back to introducing themselves at King's Strings concerts in their favorite way:

Shoun:  Hi, I'm Shoun, I'm 12, blah, blah, blah, blah....

Isaac:  Hi, I'm Isaac.  I am also 12.  We're not twins.  I just wanted to clear that up in case you were wondering.

This is my Isaac, my teddy bear.  Isaac loves everyone and is always quick to help.

He's a great little brother.

And a great big brother.


I offered to wake him at 2AM to officially wish him Happy Birthday at the exact moment he was born. he told me that he wouldn't be able to sleep.  I asked him what he thought that night was like for me?

We reminded him that Andrew took him into show and tell at kindergarten, when he was just a few days old.  For some reason, he doesn't remember that.

We also reminded him that Mariana dropped him when he was little.  Thankfully he doesn't remember that, either, nor has he suffered any consequences (that we know).

We love you so much!  We hope you had a great day and that you enjoy being 12!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Fight the good fight

It was a rough week.  It's been a rough month.  In fact, things have just been a bit crazy for quite some time.  Car trouble.  All three cars.  Tempers.  Tantrums the likes of which have never been seen in my house.  Attitudes.  Some days I feel like I'm living with Jekyll and Hyde, and there are nine of them!

And then I ran across this blog, written two years ago but so relevant for my family today.  Really, I don't think adoption is the key point here; I think that anyone following God's will, opening doors for others to join the kingdom, will find battle.  Unfortunately, we were caught off-guard, our defenses were down, and we suffered the onslaught.

But in the midst of turmoil, breakthrough.  Tonight, as I said my usual, "Good night, I love you," it was returned with, "I love you, too."  Three words I've never heard from this child and often wondered if I ever would.  Really?  You chose tonight to speak them aloud for the first time in this home?  In the midst of anger and resistance?

Yeah, I'm counting my blessings over here.  We may have suffered in a few battles, but we're not losing the war.  It's already been won!

1 Timothy 6:12
Fight the good fight for the true faith.  Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses.

Please remember us in your prayers.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The art of re-buying

The Good Doctor married me because I hate shopping.  Well, either that or because he knew I'd allow him to bring some big ole black cauldron into the marriage with him, carefully storing it in every garage in every home we've ever lived, but never letting it see the light of day.  But that's a story for another day and besides, I'm pretty sure it's the first reason.

So, it was quite a shock that yesterday I decided to brave the mall.  Maybe it can't really be called "going to the mall" since I knew I was only going to one store, and one store only, but the location was most definitely the mall.  I received a gift card for Christmas and then a one-day coupon came through for $50 off a purchase of $100.  With a $50 gift card in hand, even I could do the math and figure out that I'd be getting much more bang for my buck.  And yes, even I can figure out that the store is still laughing all the way to the bank at their profit, but I don't think there's much that I can do about that.

I stopped at Panera to get to my pick-me-up cup of Chai, a self-medicating way to get the courage to walk inside the mall and tackle the task of shopping.  Then there I was.  The trying on process was not that difficult and I had my items, equally as close to $100 as possible but definitely NOT going under.  All was well and within no time I had exited the store, the mall, and was on my way home.

Halfway home I realized the awful truth that I had forgotten to use my gift card, the sole purpose for making this trip!  What was I to do?  I could use it as an excuse to have to return to the store to purchase $50 more in the future.  Or, I could return to the store immediately.

I did what any sane American would do.  I exited at the first exit, turned myself around, speed walked back to that store, returned my clothing, and then re-bought everything, being certain to use my gift card this time.  Okay, maybe any sane American wouldn't have done that.  But every cheapskate like me knows exactly why I did what I did.  I feel so much better.

And think of all that extra exercise!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Messy messes

I hate messes.  But husbands and children make messes and I have one of the first and seven of the latter.  That means that I put up with a lot of messes.  Worse than child-created or husband-created messes, however, are remodeling messes.  I have a love-hate relationship with remodeling projects.  They tend to make large messes and sometimes those large messes get goofed up and then they become even larger.

We once remodeled a kitchen.  It needed it, so that part I loved.  But for quite some time my kitchen was partly in my dining room and partly hidden in various locations throughout the house.  That I hated.  My current kitchen is terribly outdated and extremely inconvenient but aside from the fact that I'd rather spend the money on bringing another child home than on a new kitchen, I really don't want to go through that again!

We also once took out a set of stairs, turned them completely around, and went through a thick stone wall to make a new hallway.  And if that doesn't sound like enough of a mess, when the workers removed the steps, they found that the walls around them had issues and the project immediately got longer.  Our one-week planned vacation which was supposed to bring me home to a "new" house, instead took me right to my parents' house where we imposed on them for two more weeks.  I put up with that one because I was in my dream home, an old (very old) stone farmhouse with a long driveway and nice backyard for the kids to play.  We thought we were there forever.  Putting in a hallway so the upstairs didn't go around in one big circle was a great idea.  Until we moved.

In this house we've remodeled two bathrooms and that's enough, thank you very much.

But if we're going to add another child, we need another bedroom.  Thankfully our basement is a full basement.  Half of the basement is a family room, the other half is divided in three with two bedrooms and a larger space for the schoolroom.  One bedrooms was completed a few years ago.  The second bedroom was my sewing room but mothers have to make concessions when working on a dozen children so the sewing room had to go.  Where it ends up is yet to be determined; the first to volunteer an open room in your house gets dibs on the first project I make there.  Anyway, the second bedroom was recently remodeled to accommodate a teenager.

Now it's time for the schoolroom.  The first order of business was to remove the ugly orange and red and black and white carpet that has been there since long before we lived here.  It was the previous owner's mancave, complete with matching red bar and refrigerator from the 40s or 50s.  The bar came out for bedroom #1, refrigerator, too.  Before removing the carpet, however, the Good Doctor thought he should remove everything from the room.  I guess this was inevitable.  I only wish it didn't all end up in the family room.  Well, now it's a family room/sewing room/playroom/schoolroom.  It's not the kind of place my college professors would have called "conducive to learning."  It's also not conducive to sewing since I can't even get to my sewing machine.  Now it just sits there within eyesight but out of reach, calling to me, mocking me to hem those new jeans or finish a project or two.  Oh, how you mock me!

Instead I'm sitting on a chair I can barely pull out from the table, trying to teach my children about gymnosperms and Missouri compromises and examples of hyperbole, all while staring at one huge mess.

The conduciveness to learning aside, I cannot possible fulfill my role of mother in this state.  I also cannot teach in such poor working conditions.  I am definitely calling my union rep tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Renewed resolutions

Seems as if New Year's resolutions are so old school; so 80s.  It's a good thing since the only time I ever remember writing New Year's resolutions were when my language arts or English teachers told me I had to do so.  I probably wrote down whatever I thought the teacher expected me to write because that's the kind of student I was (at least in the early years).

I've been reading a lot of blogs that tell me the new trend is to pick one word to describe the upcoming year.  That seems a bit backwards to me because you'd think you should pick a word to describe your year-in-review.  It seems much easier to sum up the year past in a word such as surprising, growing, or resigned.

But I guess ease isn't the point in choosing a word for the new year.  I have to admit that in just the first week I see a theme popping up in my conversations, devotions, and even in my Sunday School class yesterday.  The word is renewing.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing, and perfect will.  Romans 12: 1 - 2.

So that's it.  That's my word.  Let's see where it takes me in 2013.