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!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Thanks

"Thank you."

I whisper it every night as I place my exhausted head on my pillow.  It's a practice I started while I was in Utah.  It was two words that encapsulated my utmost gratitude for the gift of just enough strength to survive another day, the gift of Victor surviving another day, and the gift of my family surviving at home.  It took effort at first.  Some days it came easier than others.  Now it is a habit.  I often say the words without thinking.  But just saying them brings me to think about my day and all the things for which I am thankful.

Each night as I go to bed I am overwhelmed with all that I have to be thankful for.

Thank you, Jesus.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

New school year

Life caught up with me.  No excuses.  Just life.

Seems like I had just enough time to bring Victor home from Utah, take care of the most pressing mail on the piles (I still have three piles left, just to give you perspective), make a dent (albeit an invisible one) in the mess that is my house, focus on college preparations, and then start planning for a new school year.

Things were much simpler when there were just two in school.  One in second grade, the other in kindergarten.  In a school I knew and trusted.  What's not to love about sending your kids to the same Christian school you had attended and at which you taught before said kids came along?  My former fourth grade teacher taught first grade in the room next to me and then Andrew was in her home room for first grade.

Fast forward to 2013.

Dropped Andrew off for his first year of college.

Sent a junior, now the oldest in the house, to public school.

Watched my oldest daughter go out the door for the bus to the school of the arts.

Next child in line is cyber schooled in 7th grade.

Then three schooled at home, grades 7, 3, and 1.

And the baby.

Yep, it's busy around here all right.

Friday, August 16, 2013

My AMAZE-ing progress

At two weeks I looked like this.

At four months, I look like this.

At birth I weighed this much.

At four months, I weigh this much.

At birth I didn't have a family.

At two weeks I had a family.

At four months, I'm surrounded by my family.

Yay, God!  Look at me go!


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Letter to my college-age son

An open letter to my college age son (and to any future siblings who also follow this path)

Dear Andrew,

I am excited for you as you enter college.  I wanted to send you off with a bit of advice.  Contrary to public opinion, I am still older and wiser (in fact will always remain the first if not the second) than you.  I have also walked this road before you, and observed the college years of others.  So here is my advice to you...

Keep in touch with us at home.  I don't expect weekly letters; I'm old enough to know what they are but in tune with the times enough to know that no one under the age of 30 knows how to write or address one.  I do, however, expect texts, emails, and/or Facebook messages.  Skype and phone calls should also be utilized, but are not expected as often as the former.  We want to know what's going on and also how we can pray more specifically for you.

Set aside time for devotions, Bible reading and prayer everyday.  If you don't start in the beginning, it'll be harder to do this later.  If you don't do this at all, you will know.  I am thankful that you are on a Christian campus and believe the freshman theme of "anchored" is an excellent one.  You won't be anchored for long if you don't have personal time with God on a daily basis.

Utilize a prayer team.  If you don't already have a prayer team, make one.  Include Christians, a mix of peers, mentors, and "grandfathers" in the church (real grandfathers are good, too).  Update them on a regular basis.  Let them carry you when you need support, and encourage you in life's ups and downs.

Find a church.  Take your time.  Visit many.  As long as they speak the truth of the gospel, explore them all, big, small, traditional, contemporary, fancy, plain, church building, store front, whatever.  Now is the time to choose a church for yourself rather than just embracing the one Mom and Dad have taken you to for years (although I'm glad you've enjoyed that one, too).

Get involved in a church.  Again, take your time.  Part of your church search should involve asking yourself how you could be involved.  Involvement might mean finding a church with a thriving college ministry, a community just for you and your kind.  That is fine.  Involvement may mean playing on a worship team or serving in youth ministry.  That is fine as well.  Getting involved will give you a reason to get up and go, even when you don't feel like it.  It will also help to build a community that will care if you are not there and will keep you accountable.

Get involved on campus.  It will be necessary to find the right balance of involvement.  Too little, and you will find yourself having a hard time meeting people, and you may be bored and complaining that there's nothing to do.  Too much, and you'll not only be stressed, but your grades will suffer.  Explore your options and find the areas in which you will thrive and be refreshed.  Find the activities that will give you a break from the rigors of academia.  You might need to find your own fun and create your own groups.  Go ahead.  Why not?

Get a job.  I'm not talking fulltime work here but you and I both know that aside from scholarships and that which has been saved, you'll be paying for much of your college tuition.  A campus job is nice for convenience but not the best paying and maybe not your first choice of work.  Off campus has its own list of pros and cons.  You need to search for the best option for you.

Wait to date.  Don't worry, this isn't forever, just for a time.  A year would be nice, but at minimum, wait a month.  Make sure you didn't go to college for the wrong reasons.  If you find someone before time is up and she's the one, she'll still be around at the end of the year (or month, or whatever).  I'm not against dating per se, I just want you to be certain you're in college for the right reason and that you will be dating for the right reason.  I've read Hooking Up; I know what current young adult culture dictates.  You know God's plan for marriage and how dating should look.  The desire for a marriage partner should not supersede God's plan for your life.  Follow through on all of the advice prior to this one, and you'll know if it's the right time or not.

Eat healthy.  I won't be there to make you eat your veggies; you'll have to make your own food choices.  If the Freshman 15 is what we feared "back in the day," I can't imagine what the average weight gain is these days.  I look at college cafeterias today and am thankful my college years are behind me.  If I had that many options, I don't know that I'd be choosing the healthy ones on a regular basis.  You can splurge and enjoy cakes and cookies and ice creams every now and then but think balance and health always.

Sleep!  This one was added by a doctor friend although he said it a bit more diplomatically and thoroughly, "Try to approximate some healthy sleep habits.  Chronic sleep deprivation or extremely erratic sleep patterns take a toll physically, emotionally, and even spiritually.  I know the college norm is often all-night'ers, and trying to do everything you can in a 24 hour day except sleep, but your total college experience will be so much better if you take care of yourself and get adequate rest."  Well said.

Keep in mind that this list is subject to modification at any time.  Stay tuned for updates.  Assume that it will be longer and more specific for subsequent children; as I get older and wiser and have the life experience to identify bigger and better words of college advice.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Words for college transition

College registration - King Family Round 1

This is it; the time has come to move our oldest into college.  It has been many moons since I moved into college, but either times have changed, or they do things a little differently around here.  I'm pretty certain that when I moved into Bluffton College, the only activity scheduled for my parents was to help carry my stuff up all those steps to my room, put it all together, and help us arrange it.  Now, or here, or both, we had two days worth of meetings, receptions, convocations, and various other scheduled activities.  The Good Doctor and I have a theory that the advent of the helicopter parent has created the need for more parent interaction, to assure parents that their children will be taken care of.  In other words. colleges need to coddle parents while assuring them that their children will be well taken-care of and there's no need for further coddling. Since I have never been, and never plan to be, anything close to a helicopter parent, I think 2 days are a bit much.  On the other hand, we are more and more convinced that Andrew is in the right place for him.  Just in case, I brought the baby in the event that there are any stupid get-to-know-you games; a great excuse for a fast exit.

Last night's convocation was mostly boring as they usually are.  Andrew says that the only thing he remembers from the whole service was that the president encouraged the students to get to know their professors, maybe even offering to take them to lunch.

So, just to help him remember, let me record two highlights:

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

John 14:12 was the passage given to the incoming first year students.  As a family, we believe strongly that we need to obey Jesus' commands to "go" so I was pleased to hear it from the college podium as well.  Andrew, you are in a great place that will stretch you but will do so in the familiarity of what you already know and believe.

The second highlight for me was in the litany read at the conclusion of the service.  I'm usually not into litanies or responsive readings.  They never seem to go well and to the listeners are just a bunch of  garbled sounds.  The words read by both the students and parents, however, were exactly what I think should be said at this transitional milestone.  Here they are:

Students: "We come to this University with a sense of expectancy and faith, believing God for great things in our lives.  We confess, however, that our hearts battle fear and loneliness, uncertain of this new beginning.  We ask for grace to seek the truth and to experience the freedom, which comes in that divine encounter.  We pray that God will bless new friendships in the campus community, bring delight to our academic pursuits, and expand our appreciation for the wonder of the created universe. Grant us a hunger for knowledge and truth.  We turn not from our parents and families who nurtured us, but ask that together we might rise to a new and stronger relationship."

Parents: "We confess that we stand at a crossroad in our lives.  We ask for the courage and confidence to release our children to this community of faith and learning.  We pray that our children will be reminded of the good shared with them through  the years.  may such blessings sustain and encourage them even now.  We, too, desire a new and loving relationship found only when children leave home and return as friends.  We commit ourselves to prayer, both for our students and for Asbury University. It is with joy and expectation that we come into this family, realizing what God desires for our children is far more than we can understand.  This, by faith, we believe and accept as God's plan and purpose."
This is it - Time to say good-bye

Leading up to this day, I was asked many times how I was handling this transition.  I could honestly tell people that I was looking forward to it.  This is not to mean that there wouldn't be tears at our parting but instead is a peace found in the knowledge that we have done our part to raise Andrew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52), the joy that he is using His God-given gifts and is pursuing his God-given dreams, and the fact that he has clearly chosen the college path that God ordained for him.  This is what parenting is all about.  I am thankful for the parenting years that God entrusted to us for Andrew and I am ready to allow him the privileges of college, more independent decision making, and further following God's plan for his life.  As we read in the litany, our relationship will be different.  This too is good and I am looking forward to it.
Last words of advice from oldest to youngest

Thank you to those who have agreed to partner with us in daily praying for Andrew in this next stage of life.  The theme of this year's freshman class is "anchored."  They have a class verse, song, and various conversations centered on this theme.  I am thankful that Andrew is anchored but also recognize that trials will come to test his anchor.  This is where our prayers, our support, and yes, our letters and care packages, will hold him up and encourage him.  If you would like his college address, please let me know.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

An update on Victor Noah

I am always asked how much he weighs.  The answer is that I don't know.  My best uneducated guess is around 8 pounds.  A doctor's appointment this week will answer that question.
He takes 4 oz. every 3-4 hours.  Twice he's gone 5 hours, thankfully at night.  
He has a nice long awake period in the morning, and usually another one in the evening.  Each is from one feed to the next.  
He usually only cries when he's hungry or during a feed as he's dealing with reflux.
And speaking of reflux, you just always want to be prepared.  Consider yourself warned.
There's certainly no question about whether or not he's gaining weight.
He's still in newborn size clothing.
He'll be four months old this week!
The main issues for prayer right now would be his reflux and his eyes.  We are praying that a week from now the ophthalmologist will see nothing of concern.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The littlest mother in the house


Victor's face is in no way indicative of his feelings for HopeAnne.  These two have a very special relationship.

At least once a day, my very active seven year old asks if she can hold her brother. She calls him Buddy.

Immediately her hyperactivity and inability to focus are gone as she cares for Victor.  And a little Cosby Show doesn't hurt.

She talks to him.  "Don't cry, Victor.  Don't worry, I understand.  I was a baby once, too."

She sings to him.  He's either going to love or hate the musical Annie.

She's not afraid of his crying; she speaks softly, gently jiggles, or changes position.

She is a very nurturing littlest big sister.

Unfortunately he's getting so big so fast that I don't know how much longer she'll be able to hold him.
But until then, I know a little voice is going to come to me each day, "Mom, can I hold Victor now?"

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Seeing clearly

Victor had another torture session with the pediatric ophthalmologist yesterday.  It's so bad the doctor himself used the word torture.  I have to admit that I'm not sure I would handle it well myself.  Once again Victor has proved himself a fighter as the doctor kept hoping Victor would tire himself out and stop moving his head.

He still has some Stage 1 ROP but the doctor is not concerned about it, believing that it will continue to resolve on its own.  He is concerned, however, about Victor's sight.  Please join us in praying for Victor's eyes.  We are praying that the exam in 2 weeks (yes, they are going to torture him again in two weeks) will show nothing of concern.  John's prayer last night included the prayer that Victor won't even need glasses.  We want him to clearly see his loving friends and family so we covet these prayers. We know that it is the prayers of all of you that has brought him to where he is today.  Let's pray sight to his eyes.

Victor with his great grandmother
HopeAnne loves to mother him (or is it smother?)


Saturday, August 3, 2013

New family pictures

A few days ago my Facebook status read, "Time for a new, complete family picture, I think. Problem #1: Getting 10 people in the same place at the same time. Problem #2: Deciding where to take it. Problem #3: Getting the oldest boys to go along with my idea. Problem #4: Coordinating the tripod and timer. However, to have everyone healthy and in the same house, these problems are minor inconveniences."

I got this great idea for photos from another adoptive family.  The t-shirts can be purchased here but they didn't have enough colors for our family so we decided to make our own.  It was probably cheaper that way, too.  And they never would have had a onesie or t-shirt small enough for Victor anyway.  You have to understand that I started this project before we officially said yes to Victor.  I figured that we were getting closer either way.  And then we had a short time frame in which to take the photos since Victor and I just arrived home not long ago, Mariana leaves tomorrow for a month of theatre camp, and Andrew leaves for college in a week. Add into that everyone's crazy schedule and we had one evening to get this done; it's a good thing the weather was cooperative.  Thanks, Jess, for being our photographer.


The hardest part was getting the older boys to agree to my cheezy t-shirt idea.  In the end they reluctantly agreed but for just one photo session.  Anyone want a cheezy t-shirt?  I have several in size M, worn only once.



They still need to be put through some photoshopping, but overall, it was easier than I thought to corral and set 10 people.  And most amazingly, Victor was awake for the whole thing.

Love this family!




Thursday, August 1, 2013

Take your turn

I told the King boys that they were each going to have to change at least one messy diaper before Victor is potty trained.  Their wives will thank me someday.  I've heard of too many husbands who refuse to change diapers and I think that's sad.  If my boys refuse, it will be because of a character flaw and not due to lack of skill.  They can even watch their father who has set an example for them.  He does draw the line at cloth diapers, however, which is understandable, and very easy to switch baby from cloth to disposable if Daddy is going to be in charge.  And I probably turned him off back in the old days when cloth meant a rectangular white cloth that you folded just so and pinned with cute ducky pins and covered in rubber pants.  No, he wasn't into that.

Anyway, Isaac decided to take me up on my suggestion that it'd be best to fulfill this requirement before the little guy starts on solid foods.  One brother down, three more to complete the task.

And if you ask me, there's just something cute about this picture.  True servanthood, maybe?  Foot washing of another form?  Which would explain why Isaac was the first to complete the task; he has a servant's heart.  While some of us might need to work at being a servant, and even force ourselves at times, it comes naturally to Isaac.