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, February 28, 2016

Day of Pampering

I almost didn't go. The week and a half leading up to the event were absolutely awful. Medical emergency turned into who-knows-what and a future trip to the endocrinologist. Self-injurious behaviors that sky-rocketed. During one episode he actually left a hole in the door. Outbursts that left us holding our noses, mouths, and heads, and hands in pain. And potty training, what's that? I quit.

Knowing that the Day of Pampering for mothers of special needs children was just around the corner, I had myself a little pity party. Who did I think I was for even considering such a thing when I am such a horrible mom to this child I've been given? I somehow convinced myself that only perfect moms were deserving of such a day and that since I wasn't always able to respond in a textbook manner (forgetting that no textbook has been made for this child), since I was begging for someone to just give me a break for a few hours (hmmmm, wasn't that the point of the day?), and since I couldn't fix him (which, not surprisingly, was the speaker's topic), I didn't deserve to be there.  Besides, my emotions were so close to the surface, I was afraid I was going to be a hot mess in front of everyone.

The Good Doctor saw it otherwise. He was pretty certain that this day was designed especially for imperfect mothers for whom no textbook has been written, who needed a break, who couldn't fix their kids, and who could cry together.

He was right (but please don't tell him I said that).

All because someone followed a nudge from the Lord to be a blessing to a group of people who needed to be blessed, I was blessed tremendously. This is what the body of Christ looks like. I marvel at the number of people it took to pull off a day like this (and this church has been doing it yearly for about 8 years, I think). People to set up, tear down, keep the rooms and trash cans clean during the event, organizers, paper pushers, finding funding and donations, recruiting volunteers to do the pampering, meal prep, food purchasers, the speaker, prayer team, worship team, those who blessed the hands and washed the feet, the people who used their gifts to gift us manicures, hand waxing, chair massages, table massages, reflexology, healing touch, hair and make-up, and the list goes on....

I am filled with gratitude for each individual that used his or her gifts to serve.

And we were blessed simply by an army of people living out their calling to bring their gifts to a place of need.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The story behind the little engineer that could

Once upon a time, when I had time, I used to make clothing. Mine. The Good Doctor's (somewhere around here I think we still have a wool coat I made for him). For my children. And for baby gifts.
The Good Doctor's Shirt and Andrew's Outfit 
(complete with Daddy's football number 
- yes, I do know it's a baseball outfit)
Christmas outfits for the boys with
matching teddy bear print
Mariana's Easter dress and hat
Sometime around 2003 I must have made this little engineer's outfit, complete with hat, for my cousin's newborn son. Having saved it all these years, last fall they returned it to me so that Victor could wear it. At the beginning of the season it was still too big but today was the day. It finally fit.
He is so uncooperative. For pictures, that is.
Well, in all of life, really.
But we love him anyway.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Plan C

This post was supposed to be from NYC with tales of all the fun we (The Good Doctor and I) were having, the friends we were visiting, and all the peace and quiet we were experiencing with no children in tow.

Actually, that was Plan B.

Plan A was that The Good Doctor was going to take Mariana into the city for another audition for another college's musical theater program. The invitation came to audition, The Good Doctor made a hotel reservation so they'd be close and wouldn't have to leave at an ungodly hour of the morning, and they were set to spend yet another weekend headed in that direction.

But then she found out that she was accepted into another college's theater department and this particular college was one of her top choices. The college she and The Good Doctor had planned to visit this weekend was not. She decided to cancel the audition.

That's all fine and dandy except that The Good Doctor only buys cheap hotel rooms and they don't come with a refund in the case that you should decide to cancel.

So we decided, why not? We'll get a slew of sitters to come to the house and we'll spend the night in New York, go see a show, visit some friends, enjoy the quiet, etc., etc.

And then came Friday. First one woke up at 3:30 in the morning and threw up. Then when it was time to get up for school, another had a fever and sore throat. And a few minutes later there was another.

Then Mr. Victor woke up very lethargic. The child who would usually be jumping in his crib and screaming for breakfast, couldn't seem to stand on his own two feet, couldn't keep his eyes open, and wouldn't attempt to eat. He perked up on the way to the ER but after a call to his endocrinologist who wanted him to go to the ER, back we went. Of course they didn't find anything.

But the element of concern was there. How many people should actually enter our house, likely exposing themselves to innumerable germs? And what if Victor has another episode?

So we stayed home and this post is coming to you from my kitchen table, where it always comes from. It's loud. It's not peaceful. It's filled with germs. But it's home.  And we love it.

Although a weekend away would have been really nice.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The missing flower

I don't get flowers very often. That's okay; I'm not complaining. I just kill them anyway. I wasn't born with a green thumb.

When I do get flowers it is very special. Valentine's Day this year was one of hose time. The Good Doctor gave me a dozen roses, 1/2 red because that's what you're supposed to do and 1/2 pink because that was his poor college go-to (baby pink roses). Baby pink roses remain my favorite roses to this day.

So imagine my surprise when I came home to find one flower missing. Is nothing of mine sacred around here? I quickly found the missing rose. It was in a vase by itself, proudly soaking up blue water. But the culprit was yet to be found.

I started checking with the usual suspects. They claimed it wasn't them. I was stumped.

Thankfully it was a snow day so I had more time with the list of suspects. At lunch I mentioned the missing rose.

One child immediately looked sheepish and the words came out in a rush, "I was looking at your roses and remembered how when we were little you used to put flowers in colored water to turn them into different colors..."

Those were Queen Anne's Lace flowers that we picked along the road.


Is nothing of mine sacred around here?

For the first time in her life, Mariana was speechless.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Special friends

Six of the eight King children have been on stage at Allenberry Playhouse at one time or other since 2007. While there have been many blessings from these experiences, one of the best has been the friendships we have made. And adding to that blessing is that our paths often cross and re-cross.

Jennie has been a special friend since she played Anna in The King and I in 2009. Jesse played her son, Louis, and Mariana and Isaac played children of the King.

Her sweet and gentle spirit, her humility, wisdom, intelligence, and genuine care for those she is with are all endearing, as is her talent in dance, acting, and music. We have also marveled at her commitment to her marriage through the years, when their careers so often have them in different states. We have enjoyed several visits in our home when she either returned to Allenberry or was at another theater not too far away.

Then, a few months ago, we found out that she and her husband were both hired to play in the pit of the national tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. We were so happy for the two of the and have followed their beautiful photos of so many old venues with beautiful domed ceilings.

A few weeks ago I realized that Joseph would be stopping in York. Why not? Joseph is always a fun musical and getting to see Jennie and her husband, Brian? Of course!

It was a short but fun reunion. Unfortunately, Brian had to play photographer since the ushers were busy cleaning up and the crew was busy striking the set. But thank you, Jennie and Brian! We loved the show and seeing you again! Best wishes on the rest of your tour.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Just 2 sheets

I hope you will indulge me and allow me a bit of potty talk today.

While at a recent King's Strings concert, I found a wonderful invention in the bathroom. A toilet paper dispenser that unloads only 2 sheets at a time.

I took an extra piece - a clean one (which, I admit, by being wasteful, defeats the purpose of the self-limiting nature of the dispenser) to show to the children. After everyone had seen the marvelous by-product of this invention, I explained that I was going to get one of these for each of our bathrooms at home.

Maybe it's just us, but we have found that by owning water saving toilets, we have actually complicated matters in the throne room. When children use too much toilet paper, the water saving toilet cannot handle the excess, and it becomes a water saver no more but a water spewer instead. And of course since No One was the last to use that particular bathroom, No One is also unavailable to clean up the mess.

And let me just take this opportunity to also clear the air (get it?) about one of these water saving toilets in particular. Apparently the person who installed it was unaware that I am a petite 5'1" so he installed what I can only guess is the big and tall version. There is definitely a problem with a toilet that does not allow my feet to touch the ground. In my bathroom. Not only that, but this toilet is designed for baseball players. Let me explain. It uses such little water that you have to have amazing precision in your toilet paper dropping aim. If it does not go to the exact correct position, it will not go down (in this case, the 2 sheet limit would not make much difference, I admit). And finally, this appliance has 2 flushers. You cannot imagine how stressful this makes one's private business. As if I do not have enough decisions to make in each and every day, every time I get off the thing I have to decide if it will go down by using the flusher on the left, thereby saving the most water, or if I have to use the flusher on the right which is supposedly a water waster (although still does not take care of the paper that does not land in the exact spot the designer designed - I tried).

But I still think that one of these great 2 sheet dispensers might solve some of the problems in the main bathroom. Don't you think?

And then maybe since The Good Doctor would be saving all that time he used to use cleaning up the effects of too much paper, he would have time to fix the light switch in there, the one you have to jiggle to make it go on. And the flusher handle that needs to be manually pushed back up after it has been pushed down or water will continue to run (demoting the water saver toilet to a clear win for the water waster title). Or the door handle that doesn't lock so that you have to pull out a drawer once you're inside to ensure that no one enters. Or that makes small children think it is locked when they turn it the wrong way when trying to exit so they stand in the bathroom pitifully crying, silently, so that I can't hear them, "I'm locked in the bathroom." Such happenings can be very traumatizing.

Like too-big toilets that leave my feet dangling and which force me to make such stressful decisions several times a day.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

She wants a guinea pig!

I have a certain child, who shall remain nameless, but is in that awkward stage where a shower is needed daily but who does not yet see the need and therefore is nowhere close to being self-motivated. In other words, peers have not yet mentioned the greasy hair or body odor.

So yesterday, when we arrived at our King's Strings concert venue and I realized that the hair I previously thought was wet-out-of-the-shower was instead greasy from no shower, I was more than disappointed. I asked how it happened that this child had not gotten a shower when the directions have specifically been given for a daily dip in the shower. With shampoo. I was given "the look" and told, "I didn't have time; I had to do all of my chores" which really meant,

"Oh, dear mother. You are to be pitied among women for not understanding my plight. I awakened at 6AM (of my own accord) to find the list of Saturday chores to include the usual: Clean your room. Bring your laundry to the laundry room. Take laundry from said room into your room and put it away. Where it belongs. No exceptions. And no, behind the bed or back in the laundry basket are not acceptable options. Practice your instrument. Clean your assigned bathroom. You made it clear that ALL of these jobs were to be completed by noon when we would be leaving for this performance. I slaved away all morning and when the hour of noon arrived I was weary from my 6 hours of perpetual labor and left with no time for such a menial and unneccesary undertaking."

Rendered speechless, I walked away. What could I say to such dedication to the tasks of the household? And here I was, out getting a massage to ease my aching too-much-Victor-carrying back all while this child was toiling away, working one's fingers to the bone, not caring about the blood, sweat, and tears that it took this wee one to accomplish the mountain-load of work assigned for the day. With only 6 hours in which to complete it. I had been put in my place for certain.

Until I arrived home and found that over half of the tasks had not been completed as "the look" had implied.

And then I checked my computer for the first time that day to find an email from this child with the subject line Really cute! and this photo:

And The Good Doctor found this artistically colored picture in his closet:

And this one in his sock drawer:

All of this piggy-backing on last week's essay:

Dear Mom and Dad,

Since my gerbils died I have been thinking about the possibility of getting another pet. I narrowed my list down to guinea pigs. When I did my research on guinea pigs all the websites said they made great pets. Here are just a few of the things I learned.
1. Diet: their diet is mostly veggies and they also eat guinea pig food. They also need to eat grass hay.
2. What you need to buy: Guinea pigs need a cage (of course), food, bedding, nail trimmers, food bowl, brush, and newspaper is sometimes used but doesn't have to be used.
3. Cost: they cost about $35.00 at petco and cages are about the same (I'm not sure but we might have a cage already) those are the big things and then of course we need food and bedding and a bed but I could sew/make a bed and the food doesn't cost much.

I even have a plan for cost. I will use $15 out of my bank account and I will be saving up $90 for my New Guinea pig. You might wonder how I will save up. Well I will do chores for you guys and I will be patient and wait until I have enough money for a New Guinea Pig.

I hope you consider everything I just told you. Thank you for reading

Love, Eden King (and she got her sister to sign, too, for good measure)

P.S. Hope would get a 2nd one because guinea pigs are herd animals.

And this is the child who didn't have time to complete her chores (supposedly to perfection) in 6 hours, certainly had no time left-over to shower, but had time to search the internet for guinea pig photos and for coloring?

So now I'm thinking, maybe if I paid her to get a shower, we could kill two birds with one stone. She could save up for her New Guinea Pig and I could get her to take a shower. And she did say in last week's letter, "Well I will do chores for you guys" so maybe she would actually do some chores in those 6 hours on a Saturday morning instead of searching for cute guinea pig photos with ribbons in their fur.

Except that we're not getting guinea pigs because we have family members who are highly allergic to them.

But don't tell this child or she might stop showering and doing her chores. For money. To buy her New Guinea Pig.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Homeschool in a blanket

It was actually The Good Doctor's idea. Someone posted it to his Facebook timeline - the temperature blanket. And since we have a resident crocheter, we thought she'd love the idea.

She did. Here's how it works: Each day she adds a new row to the blanket. The row's color is determined by the day's temperature.

And it got me thinking. If I play my cards correctly, this could take care of all of our schooling for the rest of the year.

Math: We had to buy the yarn and figure out the day's temperature and know where it falls on the chart.

Reading: I'll have her read this blog.

Science: Weather and temperature -doesn't get much more science-y than that

History: Since she didn't start until mid-January, we were already behind and had to look up the temperatures for the first few weeks. History - voila! We even throw in a bit of geography by looking up the daily temperatures for - you guessed it - our home town.

Art: Looks pretty artsy, doesn't it?

Music: She's a Suzuki viola student. Just put the Suzuki listening CD into the CD player while crocheting and that's how you get music.

Foreign language: The yarn is made in China. And if we need more, we plan to purchase it on ebay. It ships from China. There are bound to be some Chinese characters on the package or receipt, right?

Gym: She had to walk from the van to the store to buy the yarn and back to the house after that. And she usually doesn't walk she runs, so that should count for something. To crochet her row each day she has to walk from wherever she is in the house to her bedroom and then if she needs to use the restroom or get a snack, she has to walk from her bedroom to her new destination. And there you have gym.

Recess: See above.

Field trips: To Jo-Ann's. Also to MomMom and PopPop's where she's sure to take her blanket to keep up and to show it off.

Home Ec: Duh.

And that's how you can get 365 days of homeschooling all in one blanket.

Addendum (added at 9:06PM): Just to clarify - Crocheting does not count as school at my house. It is a joke. It's actually part of an ongoing joke at my house. Someone mentions going to the grocery store and I say, "Ooooooo, great! Homeschool!" and then I start listing the ways it could count for every subject. Same with a trip to the dentist or to the orthodontist. But please feel free to come and look at my extensive lesson plans; they do not include everyday activities which schooled children would not get to count as school. It's a joke. It is only a joke. In the event of an actual Cindy-Does-Normal-Daily-Life-For-Homeschool, please contact the authorities immediately. In the meantime, please remember that most of what Cindy says is tongue-in-cheek or sarcasm. Meaning, it was a joke. It was only a joke.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Whose wife?

A few years ago, The Good Doctor's mother bequeathed some of his elementary school papers and artwork to him. Actually, she just gave them to him but bequeathed sounds so much more official. This afternoon I was rearranging some cabinets and came across the stack. I remembered looking through the artwork at the time it came into our possession and still agree that it's a good thing he doesn't quit his day job.

But then this little gem slipped out. According to my mother-in-law this is most definitely written by The Good Doctor but comparing it to his handwriting of today, I find that very hard to believe. Looks like he didn't use spell check back then, either, or maybe it was that darn auto correct.

But either way, the most important item of note is that had he stuck with his original plan, I would be known as the chiropractor's wife rather than the pastor's wife.

Hmmmm. Interesting.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Speaking of gerbils

The gerbil-loving gene comes through my side of the family although where I got it is beyond me. It certainly didn't come from either of my parents.

Somehow I got it in my head that I was going to raise gerbils. We talked to the owner of Duffy's Pet Shop and he assured us that he would buy back any baby gerbils we had. We took his word for it and I walked out of the pet shop with a male and a female - Tedi and Hazel.

I think that he did buy back that first litter and I walked out of the pet shop with something like $2/baby gerbil in my pocket.

But by the time I showed up with the next litter, he decided that he didn't need any more gerbils, leaving us with the task of finding gerbil owners ourselves.

This started a pattern whereby sometimes he would buy the gerbil babies and sometimes he wouldn't. But whether or not he was going to buy them, Tedi and Hazel kept playing tag at night and those little pencil erasers kept appearing in the cage meaning that I would have to find friends who could convince their parents that gerbils make great pets.

Thankfully, it all worked out and we somehow sold or placed all of Hazel's offspring. Of course there was that unfortunate time that I sold 2 female gerbils to a friend only to get a frantic call from her mother several months later because one of those females apparently was not and those little wiggly pencil erasers showed up in their cage one morning.

Ummmm, call Mr. Duffy? Maybe he'll buy them from you?

Hazel finally got tired of the whole gerbil baby selling business and started to eat her babies. She must have realized that I had a huge role to play in all of this because she also bit me leaving a scar that is still slightly visible today so that was the end of Cindy's gerbil selling business.

The End.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The reluctant grave digger

There comes a time in the life of every pet when he or she passes from this life to the next. When Fido goes to that great dog park in the sky, or Tigger moves on to the never-ending catnip banquet.

Or when little pet rodents find themselves on the wheel that never squeaks and from whence she will never tire.

Unfortunately, the mortician was a little busy (and a lot reluctant) so Licorice the Gerbil found herself lying in wake for 24 hours but that gave us all time to pay our last respects. Except Andrew and Jesse who didn't feel it necessary to come home to be with the grieving. They should send their condolences soon. (Hint, hint)

The grave digger, who was also the mortician, was extremely reluctant to do this job when there was snow on the ground but I reminded him that his father-in-law had to do the very same thing for the very same kind of animal about 36 years ago so if he didn't want to be given a bad standing next to my father, he should get his butt out there and start digging. Faced with the dreaded comparison to one held in such high esteem, he grabbed his shovel and got to work.

He is henceforth to be known as The Reluctant Grave Digger.

Silly string to celebrate a life well lived.

The pastor, who also moonlights as both reluctant grave digger and mortician, gathered the grieving girls, allowing each to share their favorite memories.

"I liked you because you were the color of my hair," said Hope. And then added, "What? I don't know what to say!" It's okay. We'll give her time. The words can come later. In lieu of flowers, snow thrown on the casket.

The reluctant mortician/grave digger/pastor said a prayer for the deceased and then asked the surrogate mother, "What was her name?" Real sympathetic there, pastor. Smooth move.

A moment of silence.

The Reluctant Grave Digger insisted there be photos as he threw on the last shovelfuls of dirt, mumbling something like, "If I have to be out here freezing my butt off, burying a gerbil, then there better be proof!" But maybe I just thought that's what he said.

And he calls himself a pastor??????

In memory of Licorice King
Formerly known as Jo
July ?, 2010 - Feb. 5, 2016

Licorice (Jo) King, 5, of Girls' Room (formerly Spare Oom), died Friday, February 5, at her home. Ms. King was born in Petco. She was employed by Spinning Wheel Enterprises. She was a member of Things That Scare Victor Post 272 and Gnawers of America. Ms. King was preceded in death by her sister, Cutie Pie (formerly known as Mary). She is survived by her surrogate mother, Eden King of Mechanicsburg and a slew of surrogate aunts and uncles.

Funeral services were held privately on Saturday, February 6, 2016, at the place of her residence. Pastor John King officiated, reluctantly.

Memorial Contributions may be made to the King family We-Really-Want-A-Puppy-But-Mom-Says-We-Need-To-Wait-Til-Victor-Gets-A-Seeing-Eye-Dog-In-13-Years Fund.

Online condolences may be left below.