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!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

23 years

In lieu of a mushy anniversary post (sorry to disappoint all my romantic fans), I am going to share with you some wedding and marriage advice; little tidbits I've learned in my 23 years of experience. Most of you can just skip this as it's really just brainwashing for my kids. They've heard it many times but sometimes it's helpful to have it in writing.

1. No matter what all those wedding cards tell you, marriage is not supposed to make you happy. It is, instead, supposed to make you holy. That's right. I learned that at a marriage weekend workshop seminar thingie that the Good Doctor was forced to go to because he was a pastor and he had to represent his congregation and support the speaker at this hallowed affair. And of course a married pastor can't be forced to go to a marriage weekend all alone so his wife should be forced to attend as well. Yes, believe it or not, churches are the only institution in all of America that can force the spouses of employees to do things even though they are not on payroll. So she was and she did. She was neither happy nor holy that weekend. But she was there. And she learned this amazing advice: God did not design marriage to make you happy but to make you holy. Don't forget it. Someday, you'll thank me for sharing that with you and we can all be holy and unhappy together.

2. Make your wedding unique; it should represent the two of you. It should not represent your parents or your siblings or your best friends or anyone else who thinks they need to give their input (except mothers who brainwash you years in advance; you should listen to them). So, if you want to wear the prototype of your dress to your rehearsal instead of the customary bouquet of shower ribbons taped to a paper plate, go ahead. Where else will you get to show off all your hard work in designing and making your gown?

And if you want to wear your favorite plaid pants that are going to look like a pair of your son's PJs 20 years in the future, go right ahead.

You say you want an outdoor reception when the weather is supposed to be high 90s with 90% humidity, why not? It's your day.

3. Skip the expensive photographer. I know this goes against all those wedding magazines that tell you that this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and that you should take out a special loan just for the photographer, but I'm telling you that's bad advice. Look at this picture.

Why on earth do I need a photo of my hand? There is absolutely no reason for this photo except to compare my veins now with the way they looked then. And to remember that for the first and last time in my life I painted my nails. Or maybe if I ever noticed a growth on my hand we could compare it to this photo to see how much it has grown in 23 years. That's it; no other reason. But thankfully, this is the only inanimate object photo that I wasted my money on. Do you know what you pay your photographer to do these days? All that money does not go to taking more pictures of you and your friends and family. It does not even go to taking that pimple off your face since that is pretty much a one-click fix that you could do yourself. Instead, you'll find that your multi-million dollar wedding photos CD includes a picture of one of the balloons from your head table. It'll be a nice photo, very creative and artistic, but 20 years from now you will say, "I paid for that?"  Unless you plan to have a balloon theme for your child's nursery, you will have no other use for that balloon photo. And what about the picture of the lantern from the doorway to the reception hall? Maybe if you happen to become the proud owner of that reception hall someday you could use the photo in your promotional literature but in your wedding album, absolutely no use. My favorite wedding album is actually the one made of candids that friends and family took and gave to us later. Like these photos of the flower girl

with the Cabbage Patch doll bribe that got her down the aisle

and picking her nose on her way to be introduced at the reception. No modern-day photographer in his right mind is going to give you a photo like that. Instead, included in that fee that could have been your first car, she will happily photo shop the flower girl's arm by her side, maybe even holding a pretty posey or possibly moving that ring bearer over so he's right next to her where he's supposed to be. But then you'd have no chance to submit anything to Awkward Family Photos with the chance to win millions. Or at least $100.

4. If you're feeling this scared the day of the wedding, you should probably get out while the gettin's good.  Whether you're just reading those vows for the first time or that whole holiness vs. happiness thing is finally sinking in, just run while you have the chance.

5. Keep it simple. My grandfather performed our wedding ceremony. He wasn't married in a church.

He didn't have a 5 course meal at a reception hall. He didn't believe in bridal gowns, tuxes, or wedding rings. And as far as I know, there's only one wedding photo (and thankfully it's a picture of the happy couple and not just their hands). But he was just as married as any of the couples at the elaborate weddings I go to today. In fact, I am fairly certain he was both happy and holy. I've never heard anyone on his deathbed saying that he wished he had spent more money on his wedding. Truth is, I've never heard anyone say anything on his deathbed but if I did, I'm sure it would have nothing to do with spending more money on anything. Save your money. You'll need it to adopt a child someday. Or to donate to my next adoption. Or to send to those starving children in Africa 'cause I can assure you that your future children aren't going to finish every meal just because you tell them there are children who are going without. Sponsor a child instead. Your elaborate wedding isn't going to do anything for the cause of Christ; living simply so others may simply live has so much more potential. There will be many material temptations throughout your marriage, start with your wedding to make choices that reflect a simpler and giving lifestyle. I thought I was keeping my wedding simple, and comparatively I was, but if I had it to do all over again, I would go even simpler.

Remember: It's not about you. It never was. It never will be. Have fun. Be happy. Be holy.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Kingwold vacation, part 9

This is your day to rejoice as the King family vacation posts are coming to an end. I will bore you no more. But first, we must reminisce about the end of our story.

As you probably can guess, since Disney is Disney, no detail is left untouched, no matter how small. Every need, every want, is taken care of, always. Every person you meet has a smile, a helpful hand, or whatever you need for the moment.  The problem is that the good vibes end abruptly as you descend the stairway to reality, or rather, bureaucracy - the dreaded customs room.  They really should have signs as you descend -


Smiles forbidden.

You are now leaving the land of Happy and entering the domain of Grumpy.

It was a world of laughter but here begins the world of tears.

You must stop having a good time.


We silently wound through the queue, dread in our hearts, fear in our minds, until we got to the last two people before the customs booth. John and several of the children were told to move on to the space behind the booth while I was stopped with the rest of the children behind me. And then ensued the following conversation:

Ma'am, you need to wait here.

Excuse me, shouldn't families enter customs together?

Yes. Are you with your family?

No, sir, you sent them on ahead.

You're with them?

Yes, we are.

You're all the same family?


But only immediate families go through customs together.

We are immediate family. That's my husband and those are my children.

Who is with you here?

The rest of my children.  We need to be with that man up there, the one with the red face who is yelling for me to join him because we can't go through customs if we're not all together.

But you can only go with the people on your customs declaration form.

We are on the same form. We are one family.

You're one family?

Well, we were when we came in here but if you look at my husband you'll see that he's extremely upset that I am not obeying his orders to join him so we may not be one family much longer.

Oh, then you may go ahead, ma'am.

Thank you, sir.

I like to believe he thought I looked too normal to be mother to so many.

Welcome Home, Kids!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Kingwold vacation, part 8

Five years ago when we were given a similar vacation blessing, some of us took the opportunity to get up close and personal with dolphins. This involved some kissing

and dancing.

So this time around, some of us decided to find out about sea lions.

This involved some kissing

and hugging

but no dancing.

Am I the only one who noticed that I still have the same bathing suit five years later? Oh dear. No wonder my teenage daughter says my clothes are vintage. Only she didn't call my bathing suit vintage. Maybe it's time for a new one.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Kingwold vacation, part 7

The Good Doctor is very competitive. Not competitive enough to want to do the Castaway Cay 5K with me on a hot Bahamian morning (something about knees and age and all that) but competitive enough to enjoy watching his kids compete.

So when he heard them announce Jack Jack's Incredible Diaper Dash, he was all in. Well, he was all ready to put Victor all in. Never mind that the child can't see the Jack Jack motivational doll at the other end of the race mat. Never mind that the child is hungry and ready for lunch. He was going to enter said child and said child was going to win if he had anything to do with it.

Unfortunately, said child had other ideas. That bottle that the Good Doctor thought he could shake to get the baby to crawl, just made Victor plant himself on the spot and have a good ol' fashioned temper tantrum at that mean daddy who wouldn't just give him the bottle.

At that point, Mommy's voice wasn't going to work, either.

Thankfully he wasn't the only baby who didn't budge.

And because Disney is all American, every baby got a participation prize.

The Good Doctor feels much better now.

Besides, Victor was probably just making a conscious decision not to participate because he was trying so hard to learn to walk, not crawl. And since he did take that long-awaited first step last night, all is forgiven.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Kingwold vacation, part 6

The Good Doctor asked the kids to name their favorite part(s) of vacation. Various answers were given but then I said that for me, I enjoyed the meals, not just for the amazing food but to get to know our servers so well of the 4 days. The Good Doctor said that was his answer as well.

Each dinner we were greeted by Gennaro and Jonathan, from Italy and the Philippines respectively. Yes, Disney does everything well but Gennaro and Jonathan went above and beyond. They joked with us, interacted over brain teasers, asked about our lives, and shared some of theirs. What a privilege to commit to praying for each of them and their families.  We are blessed because we were able to share a small part of life's journey with them.

And we won't talk about how much weight we gained on this cruise.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Kingwold vacation, part 5

Family was the reason for this trip and family was what made it special.

Shoun was a good sport and agreed to pose with the girls before boarding. Poor Guy! The travel agent must have thought his name was that of a female so put him in my cabin. Of course we could switch things up when we got to the room but to register, he had to follow the line of estrogen.

Cousins, picking up right where they left off and siblings having a great time together.

Respect for elders - Jesse made sure I could eat breakfast without getting wet during a sudden rain storm and Isaac escorted MomMom for ice cream.

They love their PopPop and MomMom!

And so now I say to my parents what John's dad always said to his grandmother, "Look what you've started!"

Thank you, PopPop and MomMom!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Kingwold vacation, part 4

The Good Doctor wanted to know what this post was about. I told him the topic was "Mommy wins," and he responded with, "That's obvious."  Well, that was rude. Oh well.

And no, we're not to the cruise yet, but that will come. I promise. I just don't know when yet.

There were at least 3 Mommy Wins on this trip. I'm certain there were many more but who's counting?

The first win was googling all those travel games. We've only ever had one vehicle with a built-in DVD player. I didn't want that DVD player but the Good Doctor only buys vehicles off of ebay, and ones at a bargain, and this particular ebay bargain came with a DVD player. Fortunately, that DVD player only lasted us one trip to Florida and that was the end of that. Good because in my day we entertained ourselves while traveling and did not need technology to do that for us. Of course we also did not need to be anchored into our seats so my dad created luxurious back-of-the-van sitting areas with sleeping bags and pillows for cushions, handmade tables for games, even chairs on occasion. But I digress. While I'm okay with moments of technology, I do believe vacations can still be about audio books, family bonding and group games. Am I right? So for this trip, I came prepared. Every few hours, I'd announce that it was time to put those ear plugs and contraptions away and join in the next fabulous group game. Jesse pretended to sleep but everyone else eagerly awaiting the directions for the next amazing game. And they all came with fabulous prizes, too, like all expense paid trips to North Carolina one day or to Georgia the next, and even to Florida the next.  And lucky for us, I have plenty more game ideas for the next trip.

The next Mommy Win was hiding the fact that our second campsite, where we stayed for two nights, actually had internet at our site. I found this out by mistake the first afternoon when the family went to the beach and I stayed back with Little Mister who was once again refusing a nap. I pulled out my laptop to write down a few future blog ideas and realized that not only did my computer show internet connection, but a strong one at that. I quickly put my computer away lest someone get a similar idea and check for a connection. Later that evening I caught the Good Doctor walking around the camp store glued to his ipad. I inquired as to whether or not he was on the internet, fishing for how much he knew. He informed me that there was internet service if you stayed near the store. Whew! Obviously he had not yet caught on. That little secret stayed with me for the duration and subsequently we were all able to enjoy good old fashioned conversation and family bonding instead of individual Facebook scrolling.

The third and final Mommy Win started a few days before the trip when I asked the three oldest to each be in charge of a family devotional time, one for each day of the camping trip. One child was reluctant but obedient and in the end, all participated. One child led us in a discussion of God-sized dreams, another in a significant prayer time for each of us and the trip, and the third talked about forgiveness. I enjoyed each one of them and the individual personalities that came through in their topics and discussions. I am very proud of the spiritual maturity in each of these older children and am thrilled with the examples they set for the younger crowd.

Who knows? Maybe we'll go camping for 8 days next time so everyone can have a turn?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Kingwold vacation, part 3

Quite possibly the most memorable part of our vacation was the day that the rest of the family left Mariana and me on the beach all by ourselves, no note of explanation, no apologies, nothing.  It happened like this...

Mariana and I headed out for a walk on the beach. We enjoyed a nice stroll along the water with great conversation besides. In the process, we were gone longer than anyone had anticipated. Fearing that we had gotten lost, been mauled by sharks, or swallowed by the ocean, our loving family members decided to wait no longer for our return. Without as much as a signal flag message or campfire smoke signal announcement, they took off, not caring about what would happen when we arrived back to an empty King family section of the beach. No one to stay behind to give us a message. No care for the women. Nothing.

On our return, we approached our former location only to find that we couldn't locate any members of the King family. We're not that difficult to spot but at this moment, we couldn't recognize anyone. We looked up the beach to where our chairs and blanket had been located but now, only one lonely chair remained, still with no family members in sight. We continued on to that lone chair to find our clothes and my shoes but nothing else (the family later claimed that they had written us an explanatory note in the sand but as it could not be verified, we have our doubts).  No shoes for Ana, no towels, no water, no money, no phone. Nothing.

The sun was hot, the sand hotter, and the macadam in the parking lot was the hottest of all yet that's where we went to wait for the (hopefully) returning van. We thought about going into the shops to cool off, but Ana had no shoes. We thought about getting something to eat, but no money. We thought about making a sign that said we were homeless and needed money for shoes and water, but they hadn't even left us cardboard or a marker. We were stuck.

Hours later, the Good Doctor pulled up in the van. No explanation. No apology. No idea of all the distress their abandonment of us had caused. Nothing.

Mariana's feet were blistered from that hot parking lot for 3 days. And the story will last for a lifetime.

Remember that time when ... ?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Kingwold vacation, part 2

I told the kids that today's post was going to be about Victor's first vacation and Jesse was a bit disappointed that it wasn't going to be all about him. So, I posed the question: What did you do on vacation that was special and memorable? Were you exceptionally cute in any way? Did you learn a new skill? He couldn't think of anything so he loses and Victor wins the coveted Part 2 spot.

We learned two very important things about Victor on this trip. The first thing we learned is that he doesn't sleep on vacation. Each traveling day was anywhere from 6 - 14 hours on the road. No matter the length or times of day that we were traveling, he never napped more than 1 hour. And this from my excellent sleeper who usually naps a total of 3 - 4 hours. However, he remained his usual happy self, no matter the hours awake. And then at night, we'd put him to bed, thinking that he'd fall asleep immediately and sleep for a longer than normal amount of time. Wrong again. He'd stand up, scream (happy screams), sit down, roll around, stand up, you get the picture. Being perpetually exhausted meant that at times he'd just conk out wherever he was or as soon as someone snuggled with him, only to jerk to attention within a short amount of time.

Sleeping during Can Jam
Supposed to be sleeping in the tent at night.
Snuggling with Isaac
Siesta in the Bahamas

The second thing we learned about Mr. Victor during this trip is that he absolutely loves the water! This makes this beach lovin' Mama very happy. Ocean, pool, baby water play area, he doesn't care. He splashed and screamed to his heart's content and only stopped when picked up at which point he immediately put his head down and cuddled, exhausted.

Testing the water for the first time
He loves it!
Entertaining his brothers
Entertaining his sisters and cousin
Pure joy!

Swimming in the Bahamas

Don't worry, Little Buddy, we'll be back at the beach soon enough!