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, October 31, 2013
Last night was Superhero Night at Middle School Youth. For fear of stating the obvious, Isaac went as Captain Obvious. Actually, it was Captain Obvious sporting a brace on that newly broken wrist. But I guess that's obvious.
Shoun changed his superhero idea too many times to count and then ran out the door with his last concoction before I could get a picture. I don't know who the guy was anyway. Someone who wears a yellow shirt, that's all I know.
And Jesse went as himself because he thinks of himself as a Superhero. More amazing is that the 8th grade boys he leads also think he's a Superhero so they went dressed as him.
My oldest daughter does a pretty fine Sarah Palin accent so that's how she went to school. Her friends are a little fed up with the fact that she stayed in character all day. That's what an arts school will do to you. If I hear how she can see Russia from her backyard one more time...
But then her friends had an Up party and she was chosen to go as Doug, the Dog.
The little girls resurrected these VeggieTales costumes that were originally worn by the three oldest (which included Percy Pea) a long time ago. So what if the neighbors have no idea who Bob the Tomato and Madame Blueberry are?
And the little guy? We couldn't decide which costume he should wear so we just kept changing.
Yeah, we wear costumes and visit our neighbors once a year. Well, actually, some of us dress up more frequently than just annually and we do visit our neighbors more than once a year. On the other hand, we probably don't visit our neighbors as often as we should. I think rectifying that should be our goal for the next 365 days.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
This morning I heard Worn by Tenth Avenue North and my mind was immediately transported, the tears immediately flowed. This song was on the radio almost everyday as I drove back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Many days I was worn and oh how I prayed for redemption to win. "But I'm too weak," was all too familiar as was "I know that you can give me rest." And then the very next song answered the question written all throughout Worn - Hillsong's Cornerstone. When we sing that in church I'm a mess. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
Yes, redemption does win. A song does rise from the ashes of a broken life. All that's dead inside can be reborn. Christ alone is the cornerstone. I am weak but have been made strong in the Savior's love and know that through the storm He is Lord of all.
The storm that is Victor's diagnosis has fluctuated between raging winds and calm breezes. Through it all, I know that He is Lord.
Some of you have seen Mariana's video of Victor underneath his activity mat, vigorously kicking his feet as he "watches" the Christmas lights the vision therapist suggested we put there. The Good Doctor and Mariana have been very excited by that video, believing that Victor's excitement is due to seeing the lights. I have not been convinced, nor has his therapist. Because I have seen him get just as excited when simply playing on his back, lights turned off. I haven't said much, not wanting to be the pessimist when they so desperately wanted to believe he was seeing. And when the therapist would come, she agreed that he wasn't showing any response to lights on or lights off.
But last night was different. After spending all afternoon and evening sitting in waiting rooms with Isaac who is now sporting a lovely wrist brace over his broken wrist, the result of overzealous teammates at soccer practice, he and I were quietly watching Victor under the lights of his activity mat. We both noticed that when the lights cycled off, he got very still and peaceful. When they came back on, we saw that his eyes were as big as could be and Victor started to kick his little feet again. We looked at each other; thinking the same thing - Victor is seeing the lights. His therapist was here this morning and we tried a repeat performance. And Victor had the same peaceful reaction when the lights went off.
When Heidi Baker prayed over Victor, she said something like, "His eyes are going to get better each day." I don't know if God is going to heal Victor's eyes. I don't know if he is going to see more than light or dark. But I'm going to continue to ask. I'm going to ask in faith, that Victor's eyes will get better each day. I have to ask. I'm worn from asking but I will keep asking. I'm worn from the discouragement of a child with special needs but I'm trusting in the Cornerstone that is holding each of us up in the trials of life.
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Remember way back when we asked you to pray for favor with the judge so we wouldn't have to return to Utah for finalization? Well, you prayed, God answered. In some ways this makes our adoption finalization anti-climactic. The judge and lawyer will be there. We'll be here. No family picture in the courtroom.
We can't fill the courtroom like we did last time.
We can't have a group prayer over Victor in the courtroom (we will forever be thankful to the judge who believes it's a free country and this falls under a free speech issues, thereby allowing this for HopeAnne's adoption).
We won't release butterflies like we did last time; wrong time of year.
And we won't have a big open house to celebrate because we can't have all of those germs through our doors.
Even more so than HopeAnne's adoption, we have been surrounded by such a large community of people from all over. We want to have you celebrate with us. This is a big deal. Finalization means that Victor is officially a King with all of the rights and privileges of being an heir. Nothing can change that. He will be forever ours. His birth certificate will be legally changed, listing us as parents. In the eyes of the law, he will finally be what he has been to us all along, our son.
So what to do? What to do? This has been our question.
We've decided to have a virtual celebration. Since we can't invite you all to our home to share with each other what Victor has meant to us all, we'd like to hear from you in writing. Please write to us, letting us know what Victor's story has meant to you. How has it changed you? What have been your thoughts in these past 6 months? What has God been speaking to you? What has been your prayer for Victor? What are your prayers for his future? Please take some time to write your thoughts down and send them to us. Either leave a message here (although we know many people are unable to post here, sorry, I'm the most technologically unsavvy person and don't know why your posts don't show up), on Facebook, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or send us a real letter. We will save these for Victor and I may anonymously post some of them on this blog. I have a feeling words are going to mean much more to him than pictures.
Oh, and please pray that there are no complications surrounding this date and finalization.
Friday, October 25, 2013
We're working on holding his head up better. This one will take some work because of his low upper body muscle tone and because he's missing the whole motivator behind babies lifting their heads - sight. We're also working on sitting up and rolling over.
One area he is not lacking in - love. Another one - stimulation.
We have received some beautiful notes from his birthmother who is concerned about him and his diagnosis. We have assured her that we are here for him, whatever it takes. Whatever it takes.
Love you, Mr. Victor!
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Sunday, October 20, 2013
It's a name that the average American does not know, even Pennsylvanians who can find his name engraved around the top of a building in our state capital. For Mennonites growing up in Montgomery or Bucks County, PA, it's a name that we do know well. That's because many of us attended the high school named after him. So did our siblings, our cousins, our aunts, uncles, and parents. And for a new generation, I bet even their grandparents call Christopher Dock Mennonite High School their alma mater.
Even so, many may not know all that much about the man who would be shocked to know that there is a school named after him. Christopher Dock was a school teacher in what would become the town of Skippack in eastern Pennsylvania. In an era when schoolmasters were known for their harsh disciplinary methods, Dock was a humble man who promoted a gentler teaching style. He wrote Schul-Ordnung, the earliest book on teaching methods written in the US. Dock was known for giving students gifts such as a penny, an egg, or a fraktur which he drew himself. Thanks to him, those of us who attended the elementary school which fed into the high school named after Dock, learned fraktur in art class and spent a day learning at a one room school. Our high school diplomas are written and decorated as frakturs as well. Schoolmaster Dock was also known for kneeling at his desk, praying for his students. Legend has it that this is where he was found when he had died. Marguerite de Angeli wrote a delightful story about Dock called Skippack School, one of my favorite children's books.
This past Friday night I found myself sitting in the auditorium once again. I sat next to my parents and in front of aunts and uncles, many of whom also attended the school. My father was being honored at their homecoming concert as one of the recipients of their alumni Distinguished Service Award, an award well-deserved.
Serving is definitely a word I would use to describe my dad. As a child I remember him taking several trips with Mennonite Disaster Service, an organization that brings aid to areas hit by natural disasters. He has served family members, friends, business partners and employees in many ways. He has been blessed to bless others. Since retirement, he volunteers by visiting the elderly and in a local Care and Share Thrift Shop which benefits Mennonite Central Committee. He mentors the next generation in business practices, parenting and marriage relationships. He still takes short term mission trips to places within and without the United States. I know that retirement looks different than he had planned due to a spinal cord injury several years ago, but I also know that it looks exactly as God had planned. Tomorrow I will go to the high school's chapel service to hear him speak about his life of service, reminding the students to trust God because His plans are always better than our own.
Receiving an award as a Mennonite can be seen by some as a contradiction in terms. Mennonites are traditionally taught to be humble. I would argue that receiving an award for a life of using your talents is humility if one has the right definition of humility. True humility is seeing yourself for who God made you to be, nothing more and nothing less. The opposite, pride, is thinking more or less of yourself than you truly are. It took me many years to learn that the brand of humility I was taught, to think of myself as less than the beautiful creation God intended, was a false sense of humility. God has given us gifts and passions and opportunities so that we serve Him and ultimately bring Him the glory. That is the life my dad lives. I am proud to call him Dad and know that I am who I am today because of the heritage God has given to me. True humility means that we can all hear these words when we one day meet the One who created us to serve Him with the unique gifts given to us: Well done, thou good and faithful servant.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Having three adopted children in our home, I've done plenty of reading. I've gone to all of the support group meetings that I can. I've watched the videos. I know that there are major connections missing in our kids' brains. I've offered low sugar, low carb, high protein diets to give them the best opportunities at daily living and learning. I saw some results, but knew our kids needed more. But what? I've seen other families try extremely restrictive diets with no results or minimal improvement. And of course there are always medications but I wanted to exhaust other areas first.
First I saw a video, the transformation of a young woman with Down Syndrome on Isagenix. Her health improved, her mood improved, and so did her ability to learn to read.
Next, testimonials like these caught my attention nearly every day:
"My son from Ukraine came home with us when he was 8. He had cardiovascular issues and the cleanse and the shakes stabilized his imbalanced blood levels in a day! Also his eye sight improved and the optometrist said his stigmatism reversed and his prescription improved. His soccer coach also said there was a noticeable improvement in his athletic ability and quickness and agility on the field."
"We are a work in progress... Emma age 7 FAS/ADHD adopted from Ukraine at age 2 1/2. 2012 was a HARD year and ened with hospital stay and the start of a slew of meds for mental/behavioral issues. Isagenix enters in July... started shakes and gradually increased to add mineral and other supplements per John Gray protocol for ADHD. In the process of a few weeks... prescription meds are now at 1/2 dose!! She is happier, fewer mood swings and enjoying life more."
"We brought our 2 year old home from Ethiopia in January of this year. We received his referral when he was 7 mos old, went to court Nov 2011 and finally brought him home in January. (Yep...he was STUCK in a southern region Ethiopia paper fiasco and we fought long and hard to get him home). Anyway, he was diagnosed as failure to thrive, anemic, stunted growth... he was the size of an infant when we picked him up. He is thriving now... he wears a 2T clothes, he's grown 8 inches... but we have been concerned about his hearing and speech. We have been sure we would be in speech therapy with him. We'd get real close and he'd watch my lips as I said a word... he wasn't able to repeat it or it was completely different than what I said. Easy words too...nothing difficult at all. I had no clue at all what he was saying and he is speaking English.
He's been on Isagenix for a week now...and OVERNIGHT his language developed. He is speaking CLEAR. He annunciates his words! I CAN UNDERSTAND HIM and what HE IS ASKING ME FOR! He can HEAR better!! I cried. Literally cried. He is not frustrated and it's like this light has come on in him. I HAD to share this..."
The clincher came for me when HopeAnne wrote this story, I Know What I Like. It was eye opening to read "I don't like to make people sad" and "I don't like to be cranky..." It hit me that she didn't like what was happening to her, with tantrums, anger, depression, obstinacy, etc., anymore than we liked the challenges these behaviors brought to parenting. Something had to change.
So we decided to try it with some of our children. Our results have been more subtle but so were our presenting issues.
It took me some time to realize that her mood was better; and we had fewer meltdowns. Over one weekend, when I had run out of the shake powder, the old Hope resurfaced, and I knew that we didn't want to go back there. We had finally found a nutritional plan that worked.
We have been working on reading for some time now. We held her back a year to give her a better chance but here we were in 1st grade, still trying to remember the difference between Y, U, and W. And all of the letters have sounds? Hit or miss. Not only did she learn those last three letters overnight, her eyes are opened to the world of learning and she is trying to read and sound out everything.
Prior to starting on Isagenix, the mere mention of the possibility of maybe needing to clean up the smallest of areas at some point later in the day, would send her into fits so terrible you'd think we had asked her to clean up a whole restaurant at the end of a busy day, all by herself. Now, she not only quickly complies, she is organizing things. On her own. This is not a child who used to organize. Yesterday she reprimanded me because I didn't put her books in her bin in the right order. Order. Yes, she had an order to the way her books were to be stacked.
She doesn't need to be reminded to get her daily jobs done. She is doing them all on her own, even making lists to remind herself of what needs to be done. The list making is her idea, not mine.
She's been able to verbalize some feelings and thoughts about her birthmother. She's cried but in a healthy way.
She used to be the last to wake up in the morning, often needing to be awakened. This was always unpleasant for everyone involved. Now she's up with the rest of them and in a great mood, getting her morning chores done without reminders.
It could be argued that these are all maturational steps that would have happened right now anyway. Maybe. But all of them at the same time? And all of these adopted children just happened to mature, heal, or "snap out of it" all at the same time? All after making the same nutritional choices? I don't think so. You have to know the HopeAnne before Isagenix and the HopeAnne after. This is a totally different child.
For more information, I'd love to chat with you, or check out these resources:
A mom's testimonial
John Gray Protocol
Our adoption consultant's story
And her husband, too
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Monday, October 14, 2013
That's how Jesse was greeted by his friends at the birthday party they surprised him with. And of course it is true that not just anyone could have coordinated their day of birth with a school holiday.
Of course he did keep us all waiting in the basement while he played the role of good boyfriend and chatted with Megan's parents. You'd think he knew that we were in the basement trying to keep certain people quiet while he purposely prolonged the surprise.
"We have great kids," is how the Good Doctor began our car ride home. "And they have great friends," is how I finished it.
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Last night's family night was brought to us by Mariana and Jesse (and Jesse's friend, Megan). Some of these folks are definitely going to be elementary education teachers, I'm certain.
If Jesse's involved, you know there's going to be grilling,
and macaroni and cheese.
Then it was turkey making time.
Shoun named his turkey, Potty. It's a middle school boy thing. You have to giggle after you say it.
And just like the stores are ready for Christmas before Halloween is over, we're ready for Thanksgiving before Halloween is here.
Friday, October 11, 2013
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
And thus begins October birthday season in the King household...
October 9th is the special day for two special children in our house. Both Shoun and Eden share the honors on this day. In order to give them each their own celebrations (and to keep us from having to eat two donuts on one day), we take turns celebrating with one on the 9th and the other on the 10th. Last year Shoun got to go first so this year it's Eden's turn to have her birthday on her birthday.
About a month ago my cousin asked several people to fill out a puzzle piece and mail it back to her daughter for her birthday. I thought it was a great idea so I stole it. Sorry, Teri. Knowing it's wrong to outright plagiarize, however, I did change it up. Community Aid was a great help because as I looked at their puzzle section, I found a great Dr. Seuss birthday themed puzzle. Don't judge me, but we often repurpose used items as gifts. Hey, it's going to be used as soon as you open the box, anyway. I took a risk, hoped all the pieces would be there when I got the puzzle home, and bought it. After completing the puzzle just to be sure, I sent pieces to various friends and relatives, asking them to write a note to Eden. That was my second risk, would they all be returned? And with just 24 hours to spare, they were!
What fun to read through the pieces while doing the puzzle,
then to reread them while putting it away. This is a gift to save.
But now, off to Allenberry for the opening of Wait Until Dark. My birthday girl looks pretty good in the kind of short hems and knee socks that I would have worn as a child, doesn't she?