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!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Week

I think my family is glad that Valentine's Week is almost over.  Yes, week.  Why celebrate only one day when you have a whole week?  And the one day thing is mush gushy, lovey dovey for me anyway.  Might as well make it a family love celebration and avoid that romantic hoopla.

Each morning and evening I forced them to eat off the good dishes, by candlelight.  Each morning had a surprise food or gift as well.

You might have thought I'd asked them to eat blindfolded with a clothespin on the nose and their hands tied behind their backs.

Oh well.  It's one of those things they're going to thank me for someday.

Someday a long, long, long time from now.

I can wait.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Aprons for Mommy's helper

Well, the party's over.  The Good Doctor is home.  The Littles are home.  I'm getting nothing done.

Let's rephrase that.  I'm cooking, and cleaning, and child rearing.  I'm just not sewing or reading, or... You get the picture.

But I did finish up one more project before the troops and their commander arrived.  I had cut these aprons out sometime last year but never finished them up.  For a while I had the excuse of needing to buy more Velcro but then there was no excuse.

So, I finally completed this project.  Each child's apron fits best on a child wearing sizes 4 - 8 but my girls have worn them younger in which case they just drown in them, and older in which case they're just a little more snug.  Each apron is 19 1/2 in. from the top of the bib to the bottom of the apron and 16 in. from one side of the apron to the other.  Straps then fit around the back and neck.  Either way, they're great for Mommy's Little helper or Mommy's Little Copycat.

Let me know if you want one or if you know anyone who does.  In the past they've sold for $12 plus shipping if you need it shipped and of course it'll all go into our adoption fund.  It's getting a little late for Valentine's Day but if you're local we could work that out.  There's always Easter baskets.  Each one is the same on the back unless the picture shows otherwise.  Adjustable Velcro at both the neck and around the back.  Completely washable because the whole point of wearing is apron is because you assume you're going to get messy, right, and you want to protect your clothes.

Please post this page to Facebook and send it to all your email contacts and just maybe I can sell these before posting on etsy!

For the future teacher, or teacher's daughter:

For the cow lover?  Or one who lives on a farm?
 This one has canning jars, red pocket and blue trim:
 More cows, pink pocket, blue trim:
 Canning jars like one above but this one is trimmed in red:
 SOLD!!! Black or navy background with lots of pink flowers, pink pocket, pink trim:

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pillows and more pillows

The Good Doctor took the Littles to the beach for the weekend.  Wasn't that nice of him?  He said he'd even keep them an extra day if I promised to write a wonderful blog extolling his virtues and greatness by doing such a kind deed.

There it is.  Don't let it go to your head.

And with so much uninterrupted time on my hands, it's been a glorious weekend at the sewing machine.  My main project can't be mentioned yet because it's a surprise.  Check back in a few months, though, and I'll be sure to post some pictures.

The latest project?  Pillows.  There's something about little kids and pillows.  I'm not sure why I try to keep them on the sofa because they always seem to be on the floor.  I might as well start a new decorating style by keeping piles of pillows in the middle of the floor.  If it catches on it might just replace the traditional coffee table.  Although I wouldn't suggest placing your coffee on it.  Arranged just right, however, they make a great fort for reading the traditional coffee table books.  You might also be able to enjoy a nice steaming mug of your favorite winter drink at the same time.

So despite the fact that I fight an endless war of trying to keep the pillows off the floor, I'm willing to add to the kids' obsession.  Pillows are quite fun to make.  When I saw an idea to use mens' shirts to make a pillow, I was definitely game to try.  The minute I saw one of the the Good Doctor's shirts come through the laundry with the slightest sign of wear around the collar, I nabbed it for my prototype.  It may not exactly be cleaning out the sewing closet but the shirt was sitting on my sewing chair for a while so does that count?

It couldn't have been any easier so I was in a quest to find the next on-it's-way-out shirt and it didn't take long.

Now we have two fun shirt pillows.

Excuse me, Good Doctor, but that shirt you're wearing looks a little frayed around the collar.  Don't you think?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Nice and toasty

One nice result of having lost my sewing room and not yet having a new space for it is that everything is out in the open and I am more motivated to get it done and have less mess sitting around.

So, since this whole renovation project was begun, I have hemmed 2 pairs of new-to-me jeans.  The bad part of being short is that you hem a lot of pants.  The good thing about being short is if you buy your jeans at a secondhand shop and they are frayed at the bottom, it doesn't matter because you're going to end up cutting that part of anyway.  I have fixed a pair of Mariana's pants that have been on my pile for 6 or 7 years.  Yeah, it's that bad.  Obviously they won't fit her any longer but maybe Eden? I fixed Shoun's suit coat which is also way too small at this point but since it's one of the things he brought with him from New York and since he was so proud of himself whenever he wore his suits, I thought it was important for him to keep.  He claims he's not interested in girls nor is he ever dating, getting married or having children.  But just in case he changes his mind on all of the above, he might like to pull out that suit coat and try it on a dependent.

Several months ago the little girls and I made these hand and foot warmers.  After that fiasco with the dog eating the bought variety, I thought this might be a little safer to have around the house.  Actually, I made them and the little girls filled them and then I cleaned up all the tiny pieces of rice that they left on the floor.  Since I am always cold it's nice to heat up a couple of these, put them in your gloves or pockets and keep your hands just a little bit warmer.  The little girls thought they were great for playing outside in the winter.  I decided to try them as bed warmers.  They worked great but after several nights of trying to carry handfuls of little warmers to bed, the Good Doctor suggested that maybe I should make a larger one for myself.  Why didn't I think of that?

Thus began the bed warmer project.  You laugh but it means that I can keep the house temperature down at night and not have anyone complain.  And besides, my dad tells of going to bed with a heated brick at his feet.  At least it doesn't hurt so bad if I roll over or accidentally kick one of these.  It worked so well that all the Littles in the house wanted one.  By Littles I mean those younger than me since at this point only two of them are actually littler than me.  I must not be the only person in Mechanicsburg making bed warmers for an army since the huge bags of rice are currently out of stock at the grocery store.  Unless of course people are actually buying those large bags to eat the contents.  So I have a few more made and a lot more ready to be filled.

I think I got a little carried away.  Want one?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Adoption update

First, a recap.  We have been home study ready since the first week of December and two days later we started applying to agencies that our consultant works with.

Since then, we've had numerous possible situations come through.  We read the information given about the expectant parent(s) and then prayerfully make a decision.  This has been so heartbreaking.  How do you say no to a child based on the health history of a parent or the poor choices of a parent?  At times I've felt picky but our consultant assured me it was being wise, not being picky.  That made me feel better, but I still just want to take each and every one regardless of the outcome.  We know, however, that with seven children already at home, we need to make a wise decision based on the time and care we know that we are able to give.

Twice we have said yes and our profile was shown to the expectant parent(s) along with several other families who were also willing to parent that child.  The wait is excruciating.  Think about that pregnancy test needing to take several days to give you a result instead of a few seconds.

Each time we were not chosen.  While that can be a discouraging feeling, we continue to repeat what we have said from the beginning of this journey, "God has the perfect match for us, in His perfect timing."  He's not going to give us the wrong child, nor will He allow us to miss the right one.

We are thankful for prayer partners who have helped us carry the burden of these choices.  Sometimes the answer was easy, sometimes not so much.  We ask all of you to pray for us; for wisdom, for patience, and for faith.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


At our house, when we make chili, we call it Mennonite Chili.  It's our way of telling others that it is very mild and not a big hot and spicy.  We're probably the only ones that get it.

For some reason, as Andrew was making stromboli tonight (yes, my eldest son actually made the stromboli for his Super Bowl party), he started to call it Mennonite Stromboli.  It made no sense but to his friends, many of whom don't know what a Mennonite is, it sounded intelligent and they latched on to it.  By the end of the evening they were also drinking Mennonite water and watching Mennonite TV.

For the first time in my life I am living in a non-Mennonite area.  There are positives to this but there are also aspects of the Mennonite community that I miss.  One of these is the community itself.  A close-knit community where everyone knows everyone (or at least can name a relative or two with whom that person is also related) can be both a blessing and well, not-so-much a blessing.

Last night we played a concert in Virgina, about 3 hours from our home.  It was in the area of Eastern Mennonite University so obviously this is a large Mennonite community.  Growing up in eastern PA, in another pocket of Mennonite-ism, and then attending a Mennonite college in Ohio, and marrying a Mennonite from Mennonite Mecca in northern Indiana, we are definitely card-carrying Mennonite community-ites, even if they did take our card-carrying privileges away since defecting to their kissing cousins, the Brethren in Christ.

I guess we've been out of the Mennonite church a little too long because we were totally taken by surprise when the Mennonite games began.

It started within five minutes of our arrival.  We visited with friends from college and quickly found out that my cousin attends their church and had been to their house recently.  Another cousin teaches with our college friend.  And in our friend's role as college professor, he had taught several of my cousins.  We reminisced about many college friends who either live near them or us.  There was also that awkward moment when he mentioned the name of a better-forgotten boyfriend of mine, from Vermont, with whom he now plays softball.

And we hadn't even gotten to the concert yet!

When we walked in the door, John looked at the pastor and said, "I know you!"  They had worked together during a week at a Mennonite camp several years ago.

Three of my first cousins were there, and an aunt and an uncle.

Waiting in the lobby for the concert to begin, in walked our former landlords!  The first, and only, apartment John and I ever lived in, in Pennsylvania, and here were our landlords, now living in Virginia!

Next came friends of my parents from their pre-children days when they lived in Illinois.  They're now in PA and their friends are in VA.

My 7th grade teacher showed up (Look, I am actually a public speaker now!  No one would have guessed that back in middle school!) as well as the man who first taught me to play the violin - in 2nd grade.  Yes, in PA.

Our family was privileged to be in a small group at our church growing up.  Several members of one of the small group families now live in VA and yes, they showed up.  And to think, I used to babysit these children who then used to babysit my children, and who are now all growed-up with children of their own!  And I can't forget the fact that there was a woman in the audience who used to be one of my babysitters.  She still lives in PA but was visiting her son - in VA.

While all these connections made me much more nervous than I usually am at a King's Strings concert, it was fun to be at a family reunion of sorts.