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, October 31, 2013

Visit Your Neighbors Night

Our children may or may not be allowed to play dress up 365 days a year instead of just 364.  I know I shouldn't feel so judged by our decision on this issue as I'm the one who teaches people to not worry about differences in preferences but to keep the focus on the absolutes of raising godly children.  This articulated it so well.  Maybe it's because the Good Doctor is a man of the cloth and we live in a glass house.  Maybe it's because I used to work in a ministry with a man who would give me the same lecture every year, one week before October 31st.  But oh well, let's just get it all out in the open.

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

Better each day

There are certain things that take me right back to Utah and my time there with Victor.  Like frozen yogurt (you, too, Katrina?).  Another adoptive family posted a blog about a family trip to Bridal Veil Falls and the Provo Canyon Parkway.  I looked at the pictures and I was right back there.  Songs have been especially powerful.

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

Great news!

We have a finalization date!  November 4 it is.

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 kingzoo@comcast.net, 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

Little Man at 6 months

The Little Man had his 6 month check up and he is now 13 pounds 2 ounces and 22 1/2 inches long.  While behind developmentally, he's moving right along in his growth.

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!
There's nothing better than a sleeping baby!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Serving speech, part 3

Part 3 of my dad's speech to the high school students at Christopher Dock Mennonite High School on Monday, October 22:

I am proud of my heritage here at CD, with my father teaching here from ’60 to ’88, my wife Chris and I graduated in ’63 and my two children graduating here.  I also had 5 siblings go here, I have always felt attached.   My daughter, Cindy,  graduated in ’87, is married to John King who spent several years as guidance counselor here at Dock.  He is now pasturing a church in Mechanicsburg, PA, near Messiah College and they are the parents to 8 children.  My son, Chad, graduated from CD in ’91 and is a professor at Butler  University in Indianapolis, IN and father of 2 children.  I am blessed with 10 grandchildren who Chris and I have and will continue to enjoy.  Grand parenting is a blast!  We love to serve our children and grandchildren in whatever ways we can but it is even more of a joy to see them following God’s direction for their lives and to see them serving Him, allowing His glory to be shown in their lives.  Sometimes my grandchildren challenge me by their ability to trust God at a much younger age than I.
Our oldest grandson is now in college.  At his graduation from Mechanicsburg High School  this past June, he challenged his classmates with this story:
There is a popular story of a man who was walking along a beach.  The night before the tide had washed thousands upon thousands of starfish onto the shore and had then receded, leaving them to die upon the beach.  As he continued to walk, he came across a boy who was throwing starfish back into the sea one by one.  Realizing the futility of his meager attempts to save the starfish, he said to the boy, “You know you can’t possibly make a difference in the lives of all these starfish.  The boy looked at the man, picked up another starfish, then replied “Yes, but I can make a difference to this one,” before throwing it into the sea. 
Andrew shared, with all his peers in front of him that his parents and grandparents were where he learned all of his values and morals and how they impressed on him to look for and take care of the downtrodden, the disenfranchised, the starfish, of our society.   This has always been one of my joys in life and to hear our grandson give this challenge to his high school peers was a tear jerker.  I know, like me, many of you have no idea what you will be doing in life after high school, but take the challenge from me and know that it is not that important that we know what we will be doing but that we follow a God who cares about us and if we develop a close relationship with him He will direct us into a career that even you may not even be thinking about at this time in your life.  He will guide you into experiences and circumstances that will enable you to better reflect His glory.  God is always teaching and directing us through life.  It is not always easy to follow and understand.  But I am here to say today that it is important to trust and follow God’s plan for our life.
I believe, as a follower of Jesus, we are to humbly serve the interests of others.  Paul, the apostle, says in Phil. 2:3 & 4 “Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others.  Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself.  Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing.”  When we focus our lives on the example of Jesus, we learn to consider others’ needs more important than our own.  There’s an old hymn that goes like this,
#1             More like the Master I would ever be, more of His meekness, more humility;
More zeal to labor, more courage to be true, more consecration for work He bids me do.
 #2         More like the Master is my daily prayer; More strength to carry crosses I must bear;
            More earnest effort to bring His kingdom in; More of His Spirit, the wanderer to win.
 #3         More like the Master I would live and grow; More of His love to others I would show;
            More self-denial, like His in Galilee, More like the Master I long to ever be.

What do you want to be in life?  God does have a plan.  Allow him to lead you, even at this time in your life when you have no clue.  Trust Him.  Serve Him.  Reflect His light and glory.  God bless you all.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Serving speech, part 2

My dad's speech to the high school students at Christopher Dock Mennonite High School on Monday, October 21, part 2:

God’s direction and teaching me about leadership, allowed me to be a leader in the church, too.  Through life, my involvement in church leadership was always enjoyed.  Chris and I were youth sponsors for many years.  I lead song leading, taught Sunday School, served on and chaired Church Council, was involved with Elders and served for eight years as Church treasurer.
In 2004 I had an experience that taught me a great lesson but once again, God was directing every step of my life.  One morning in March I routinely got up at 5:30AM, did my exercising,  ate breakfast, and stepped in to take my shower only to realize that my right side was going numb.  After kissing my wife goodbye and telling her that something wasn’t right, I was going to try to go to the office, only to collapse after about ten steps.  My wife called the doctor, transported me to Grandview and after diagnosing that my disc between t8 and t9 had slipped against my spinal cord, I was transported to Jefferson Hospital in Phila.  It was humbling not to be able to walk.  After two months of hospital stay and rehab, I progressed from using a wheel chair, to a walker and cane, and finally I learned to walk again.  During my hospital and rehab I did some soul searching as to why me.  My life was good, good job, financially stable, whatever I wanted, I got.  But I found out during this time that God was definitely trying to tell me who was in charge.  I thought I could do it on my own, and I was, but God wanted me to know that in all things, He is in charge, and that I should live my life that way.  My nerves never completely healed so now when I feel sensations in my legs with every step, they are reminders from God, saying, Glenn, I am in charge of your life, just follow me.   Remember what I’ve done in the past and trust me.  I am in control of your life.

Remember how God took me to Illinois during voluntary service, and how He gave me a passion for the elderly?  In the early ‘90’s I was asked to serve on the Board of Directors at Rockhill Mennonite Community which got me back to a passion I developed back in the ‘60’s in Voluntary Service.  I am still serving on that board and enjoying every year of it.  The past 15 years I have served on the Board of Directors for Community Home Services, which was started by the five local Anabaptist Retirement Communities.  Community Home Services has developed a great program to help people in our community who need home care.  It has really been a joy for me to serve on these boards realizing that there is way more involvement then just monthly meetings to attend.  Getting into the mission and leadership of these organizations is an exciting adventure.

Since retiring at the end of 2008 I have really enjoyed being a volunteer.   God blessed me financially so that I could retire and not need to work for financial reimbursement.  Some of my volunteering is at the Care and Share Shoppes’ in Souderton, visiting two elderly person at  Rockhill Mennonite Community.  What a joy spending time with this group of people, they have so much knowledge to offer us.  My only regret is that they die too frequently.  I enjoy going back to Swartley Bros and having lunch with one of my replacements, and just checking in with all the great employees.  Sitting in your seats as high school students, retirement is probably far from your minds.  It was once far from my mind as well.  What I want you to remember, through all that I’m saying today, is to trust God.  Every experience in your life is orchestrated so that you can be the person you were meant to be, now, after graduation, through your work experiences, to retirement and beyond.  Your life is meant to bring God glory.  Trust Him to lead you, and you will be a reflection of Him.
One of my reasons for retiring at age 63 was because I wanted to get involved with mission and service trips.  I had the joy of going to Haiti four times, so far, with Souderton Mennonite Church, teamed up with Water for Life, also to Alaska with a Souderton group to Victory Bible Camp.  And I am hoping to go on a lot more.  I love the adventure and relationships that go along with these trips.  I also had the privilege of going to India with our son, who is a professor of world religions at Butler University in Indianapolis, IN.  He has spent many trips there to learn more about the Hindu religion and has developed a great dialog with Hindu leaders.
I enjoy being a mentor to persons who want advice in parenting, how to be a better spouse, advise in business, and better communication skills.  Souderton Mennonite Church has really pushed their mentoring program with the youth of the church.  I started last year with a seventh grader and I have immensely enjoyed that relationship.  Just spending a breakfastwith these persons who ask for advice or direction has always been a rewarding experience for me.   I find it important for me to offer whatever good I can to these persons.  I feel that I have been truly blessed by God through my life in my  marriage, parenting, church and business  and feel that it is just right for me to share my ideas and believe.  As always, I want people to know that they can trust God through every circumstance and that Christian character and service have to be forefront in everything we do.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Serving speech, part 1

We were blessed to attend the chapel service at Christopher Dock Mennonite High School on Monday morning to listen to my dad speak to the students there.  Here's the first part of his story:

This past weekend was my “Class of ‘63” 50th year reunion”.  Unbelievable!  50 years since graduating from high school. 
My wife has saved a lot of stuff from our high school years.  I have the ninth annual handbook in my hand.  1962-63 School Term.   Page 13, Dress Regulations.  It says:

Principles of Christian Modesty and simplicity shall be applied to practices of student attire.
Boys shall be neatly dressed.  Dungarees are not to be worn for regular classes.  Sleeveless jerseys are not to be worn for gym classes.
Girls’ attire shall be modest in appearance, with three-quarter length sleeves, full skirts which go well below the knees, and without low neck lines or sheer materials.  Gym clothing recommended is skirt and blouse.  (Girls, can you imagine wearing skirt and blouse for gym classes?)  Long hose shall be worn at all times.
Jewelry shall not be worn by boys or girls.

Yes, those days were unbelievable, but so memorable also.  The days when friendships were developed and for some of us our life time companions were found.  Six of us found our spouses in our high school class.  Some of us left CD knowing exactly what we wanted to do next in our lives but for some of us, especially me, we didn’t have any direction in what we wanted to do or where we wanted to go.  Sitting in our classes at Christopher Dock, none of us could have imagined where God would take us.  But looking back, I can clearly see that God was always directing my life so that I could be the person He desired me to be, a person who served others so that they would be pointed to Christ.
My father was the principal here at CD, my older brother and sister were in college at EMC, now EMU, so I did feel the pressure to continue my education but had no good high school record to do so. In the summer of ’63 I took on a painting job while deciding what was “out there” for me. Soon after graduation I received a call from a stranger, Mr. Philip Swartley of Swartley Bros. Eng., Inc in Lansdale, saying that he had called CD and asked them who he could call for an open position in his firm.  Mr. Swartley said he told CD that he wanted a “Mennonite boy” because he had a hired man on his farm that was Mennonite and he felt that his work ethics were something that he wanted in an employee for him.  Not knowing Mr. Swartley from Adam, and still not knowing what I wanted to do in life, I told him “no”.  
Two days later Mr. Swartley called again and said that “you don’t know me but I don’t take ‘no’ for an answer”.  He was right.  45 years later at the end of 2008 I retired from my one and only full time job.  That summer of ’63 was a good example of how my life has been a life of learning to realize who was really in control and that God had a plan for my life even when I didn’t know where or what I was doing.  God has in numerous ways showed me the direction that He wanted me to go.   I am indeed thankful and indebted to God for His knowing what was best for me and for Him being so direct and sending the “Mr. Swartley’s” into my life in so many ways.
Three years after starting at Swartley Bros I was drafted.  This was during the Vietnam War.  I  needed to make plans to give two years of my life to the US government. I did register with our government when I was 18 that I was a “Conscientious Objector” to our military and was granted a chance to go through Mennonite Mission and Charities in Elkhart, IN through their Voluntary Service Program. Christine, my girlfriend at the time, and I were planning on committing our lives together but needed to bump our wedding day by three months so that we could spend my two year commitment together. And yes, like all young people we desired to go either to Florida, Colorado, or Arizona.  But again God had other plans.  We ended up in Eureka, IL in a retirement community called Maple Lawn Homes.  The middle of Illinois, nothing but corn fields and more corn fields. 
In those two years Chris and I were “unit leaders” of a voluntary service unit of between 9 and 13 young adults.  When we first got there we were 20 years old and I was the youngest of the whole group, but leader to all of the others.  My other assignment was part time office assistant to the CEO and his wife who was the secretary.  In those two years I learned so much about leadership. That knowledge has been beneficial to my career and still continues.  Earl Greaser, who was CEO was a great mentor of mine. In these two years I also developed a keen passion for the elderly which I never lost. You’ll hear more about that later.  Again, God was directing my life.  I may have thought I was just spending 2 years in service to my country, but God was giving me skills for my future career and giving me a passion for a population I would later serve.
When my years of service were over, I returned to Pennsylvania and to Swartley Bros.  Mr. Swartley had been in contact with me many times during those two years making sure that I did return. Mr. Swartley had often asked me to start taking Correspondence Courses in Business Administration but I felt like doing a lot of reading and studying was not for me.  Now looking back over my life I realize how much I could have used that education but back then I never saw myself as getting into business leadership.  On the other hand, God had given me hands-on experience and excellent role models during those two years of service. I did let Mr. Swartley know that I was interested in the electrical side of the business so he recommended to me that I take night school classes in Electrical Technology at Penn State’s Ogonze Campus in Abington, which I did for several years before and after my Voluntary Service commitment.
When I returned from my two years of service, Mr. Swartley died of a heart attack at age 62.  This was quite a shock to the business because Phil Swartley was the older of the three brothers and he was the brother who really ran the firm.  In his passing this became a great opportunity for me in that I was much more acquainted with the operations of the inside business then the two remaining brothers.  The two brothers saw strong character and a Christian witness that they respected and trusted me to help them run and lead their business.  After council from a business mentor, I got the courage to ask them if I could become more directly involved with the business, and because of a good working relationship with them they told me that they would begin yearly bonusing me shares from the business.  In the 80’s, the company bought out the one brother who ran the retail side of the business.  After becoming a partner with Bud Swartley we put all of our effort into the Industrial Electrical Contracting business, which in the late 80’s had 17 electricians.  God blessed this business and when I retired at the end of ’08 we had 84 electricians. 
The Swartley family was a joy to work for.  They treated me like a son and always made me feel welcome.  Well, most always.  When the next generation came into the business I needed to deal with a partner who felt threated by me, seeing me as a threat to his family.  But after several years he realized I just enjoyed working for the family and did not have any interest in taking over the business.  Bob Swartley, Bud’s son, and I became a very trusting team until my retirement. Once again I realized that God was directing my life.  My honesty and character in business allowed God to direct my life into becoming part of the Swartley family, and a part of the business.
Through my 45 years at Swartley Bros. I learned the importance of loyalty, honesty and relationships.  By God’s help I tried to always be fair and honest in all relationships, whether with employees or the Federal government.  Two things that stand out as very rewarding to me.  At our company Christmas Dinner it was a delight to have spouses of our employees come up to me and say “My husband really enjoys his job and the way he is treated at Swartley Brothers”.  And when I had my first experience with a tax audit and after having them there for two days say, “We normally stay for 3 days and on the average take $30,000 dollars back on unpaid taxes, but with you, we only found $300”, and that was because we had just purchased a bucket truck and I didn’t realize we needed to charge tax for the rental of that equipment.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Life of service

Christopher Dock.

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

The new HopeAnne

A few months ago I started seeing posts from several adoptive parents about Isagenix products and the positive effects they were seeing on their children, adopted children in particular.

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

Monday, October 14, 2013

October birthdays, take 3

Happy Columbus Day!

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

Halloween turkeys

Periodically we schedule a family night.  I'd like to say they were every other week or once a month but  with so many people going so many directions, I'm happy with whatever we can schedule.  Each time a family night is scheduled, a different combination of family members is assigned the planning from food choices to activities.

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.
Mariana was the hot glue gun master.
Nothing like a good craft to bring out the personalities of each child.

Shoun named his turkey, Potty.  It's a middle school boy thing.  You have to giggle after you say it.
Even Victor got to try out a feather or two.  Love his vision therapist, we don't worry about baby appropriateness, we just let him experience with his senses - totally supervised, of course.

And just like the stores are ready for Christmas before Halloween is over, we're ready for Thanksgiving before Halloween is here.
Enjoying a job well done.

Friday, October 11, 2013

October birthdays, day 2

Yesterday was Shoun's turn.  Now we have 4 teenagers, from 13 - 18.  Come January, when Isaac also turns 13, we'll have 5 teenagers.

He was a little pensive as he pondered 13 candles.
And then he was all smiles.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sugar month begins

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?