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!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

25 years

25 years ago today I was getting ready to be married. I don't think I had slept much the night before but that's nothing new. I had purposely planned a 10:30AM wedding because I didn't want to be sitting around all day trying to figure out what to do with myself. I also wanted to have a small lunch rather than a bigger evening meal. And it's a good thing since the high temperature for the day was 98. In a church with no air conditioning and an outdoor reception. This is my formal apology to all who sweated during those hours. Spend the day today indoors. In the air conditioning. On me.

Two days ago our children planned a lovely day of activities. All we knew was that we were to keep the day open. The night before we were told that we had to be ready at 8AM and that the dress code was what we would normal wear. Oh, and that we didn't need comfortable shoes for walking. No other hints.

The schedule that only they knew existed

In the morning, it was obvious that something was up because teens and adult children who are usually not seen until noon were lined up for the bathrooms. Ready to go, I entered the living room only to be told, "Your gift for the day is that you and Dad get to spend the whole day alone....with Victor." I declared a mutiny. They changed their minds.
First stop was breakfast with Andrew, Sarah, Shoun, and Isaac. Apparently, Andrew had drawn the short straw and got stuck with breakfast. In reality, Jesse had originally drawn the short straw but because Andrew had to reschedule a dental appointment for Monday, he had to switch. And of course, while we were eating, the dentist's office called to say that they were canceling his appointment because the dentist was sick. Figures. But we had a wonderful time so thanks, guys!

We then went home for a short break while the next crew got ready. They didn't tell us where we were going but on the way The Good Doctor figured it out and started calling out directions. He was right. Miniature Golf with Mariana, Jake, Eden, and M.

Home again where we found HopeAnne loading toilet paper into the back of the car. My only guess was that our next location did not have restroom facilities???? So after a quick trip to the indoor facilities in the comfort of my own home, Jesse, Megan, and Hope led us to our next destination which was a picnic lunch that they had prepared to look like our 4th (or 5th) month dating anniversary. Back in the day I loved Big Macs (before learning about healthy eating and before my metabolism changed) so for this particular date the Good Doctor had somehow gotten rid of his roommate for the evening, bought us Big Macs and fries, placed a candle in a roll of toilet paper, and called it a celebration.

An hour later we were picked up and taken home for a short break before who should arrive at the door but my parents. They took us to City Island where we had a nice, relaxing ride with great company on the Pride of the Susquehanna.

We arrived home to the smells of supper baking but a curtain covered the kitchen door so we couldn't enter. Half of the kids were preparing supper and the other half were the chosen ones, otherwise known as cleaner-uppers. We had a delicious meal which ended with cake and ice cream.

Then the kids wrote questions about our wedding, our marriage, and what we know about each other. We had a fun- and laughter-filled evening answering questions like what were you thinking while the pastor was speaking during your ceremony, to how do you put up with all of these kids, to the ever popular but never answered who is your favorite? This question came up twice but we were too smart to fall for that one.

We were very blessed to spend the day with our closest family. Many thanks to the kids for organizing this and for all the work you did at home during the day. Tonight we have plans to bore the kids with our wedding video during dinner (we're bribing them with pizza) and then get family photos taken (we're bribing them with ice cream). Gotta take advantage of having everyone in the same place at the same time.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The year of...

Another week at the beach has come to a close. 2016 will forevermore be known as...
The year we had 8 of our 9 children here. Maybe someday we'll get everyone to the beach at the same time but until then, we'll take 8 out of 9.
The year Victor made us stop 15 minutes into our trip because he had to go to the potty. The child who has refused to be fully trained after more than a year of trying, announced after only 15 minutes in the car that he had to pee. Being only 1 mile from a rest stop, we decided to humor him. But as we pulled off the highway, he informed us that he wanted to pee in the grass. No problem, we'll just pull over to the far side; the grassy area where people probably walk their dogs. But while standing, he changed his mind, now he had to poop. No problem, we'll just pull out the potty that we packed away for the beach house. Except that no one actually thought we'd need it along the way so it was packed underneath three other things. Lucky for Victor, he did actually produce some poop for that potty.

The year we spent the first day with my friend, Kym, and her friend, Michael. Those stuffed shells were amazing as were the peanut butter balls (aka vegetable meatballs).

The year Eden and HopeAnne decided to buy not one hermit crab each, but two hermit crabs each. They don't mate in captivity, do they?

The year of "the incident". The whole family was shopping at the dollar store on the boardwalk (because where else would a family of 11 shop?) when Shoun was questioned by the clerk, "Did you buy that soda?" It probably wouldn't have been a big deal except that Isaac was standing right next to Shoun, also drinking a soda that he had just purchased, but he was not questioned. Shoun told her that he did, indeed, buy that soda. She demanded to see the receipt which he promptly displayed for her. She then grabbed another bag that held items he bought from another store and searched it to make certain he was not using it to shoplift from her store. As soon as we heard about what had happened, the Good Doctor promptly returned to the store with both Shoun and Isaac, stood in front of the woman and said, "This is my son, Shoun. This is my son, Isaac. Do we have a problem here?" She knew immediately what he was referring to. We can only pray that the lesson has been learned.

The year that Eden introduced Victor to cotton candy.

The year that Victor and Andrew enjoyed a lot of quality time together, including being carried on Andrew's shoulders and leaning over to speak directly into Andrew's ear whenever he had a request.

The year that Isaac had surgery and was supposed to return to the doctor half-way through the week to have the stinky, hot, falling-apart mess removed and replaced but received a phone call from the scheduler pushing it off another week. Ugh!
The year that Victor continued to protest loudly at being forced to walk across the sand from sidewalk to ocean and from ocean to family sitting under umbrella but also the year that he would actually touch the sand with his hands.
The year Victor was obsessed with the Beatles and had all of us singing Hey Jude and Yellow Submarine at the top of our lungs in the van - multiple times.

The year Eden dressed Victor up in her tankini and he morphed into a darling little girl with a sundress. And then got mad when we made him exchange it for his own bathing suit.

The year of No. Victor's word, not Andrew's. Here's hoping it isn't next year's word as well.

The year of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. 2 down. Anyone else?

The of more memories, laughs, and fun. See you next year!

Friday, June 17, 2016

The nose knows

We went to the Smithsonian National Zoo today.

Unfortunately, there weren't any hands-on experiences for the visually impaired member of our group. He was a trooper, however, and is now quite the expert on animal smells. I think that after one day exploring the zoo with just his nose, Victor can now identify each and every one by the smell of their poop. Just sayin'.

Anyway, other than olfactorally (is that a word?) exploring the zoo, his favorite part was the little sprinkler and the water fountain area.

But at least they had those areas for him. And it was a whole lot cheaper than taking him to a water park.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Thanks for the prayers

The hip bone's connected to the ...

wrist bone?


But I can't take credit for it; it was the Good Doctor's joke, believe it or not.

Thank you for your prayers. Isaac's surgery was about 2 hours longer than expected but the doctor is very pleased with the results. He's not making beautiful music on that viola yet, and won't be for most of the summer, but we are hopeful that the outcome will be successful as suspected.
Isaac's lovely pre-surgery attire....

...and post-surgery wrist

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

June 10

So this happened at soccer practice in the fall of 2013.

He was probably the only North Pole elf in the history of the world sporting a bright blue cast with spider motif.

Fast-forward 2 years and his viola teacher noticed that he was no longer holding his viola correctly. At first she thought he was just developing a bad habit or getting lazy but as she worked with him, she realized that he actually could not physically turn his wrist in the correct manner anymore. A little more probing, and my non-complaining, high pain-tolerance son admitted that it also hurts him to play.

That's a problem.

And the cause of the problem? The initial break was in the growth plate. That bone stopped growing. The rest of Isaac, including the other bone in his forearm, grew in leaps and bounds.

We could do nothing and just hope that the tendon, which is stretched because of the uneven bone growth, never snaps. And Isaac would always struggle do to what he does well and wants to do for a very long time - play viola.

But also because he wants to be able to play viola for a very long time, we searched for a surgeon we could trust. This led us to Johns Hopkins and a doctor who did the unthinkable - he actually sat down and talked with Isaac, asking about him, what he likes to do, what he wants to do for a career, what kind of range of motion he needs, how he needs to hold his hand, etc.  And then he looked at the bone and the x-ray.

So we covet your prayers for this Friday, June 10, when Isaac is scheduled for surgery. Bone will be taken from his hip to lengthen the bone in his arm. Pray that the surgeon's hands will be guided right where they need to go. We pray for complete healing and perfect range of motion afterward.

We pray that in 2 weeks we will again hear the beautiful music of Isaac and his viola.

Healer, Great Physician, Author of our Stories, hear our prayers.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Every. Single. Milestone.

It has been said that as a parent of a special needs child, we learn to celebrate even the smallest of milestones.

So today I am rejoicing that he actually decided to use the potty (a hit-or-miss endeavor even after 1 year of trying) and wipe himself (a first).

And I am choosing to ignore the fact that he left a trail of paper from bathroom to dining room and that he seemingly prefers to wipe in public.

And it is possible, as my brother has suggested, that he was just leaving a trail so that he can find his way back to the bathroom and the rest of his clothes.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

3 down

In 2013 we listened as Andrew gave a speech at his graduation. In 2015 we listened as Jesse and a friend shared a cello rendition of Welcome to the Jungle. And last night, it was Mariana's turn to share her thoughts with her graduating class.

It's a shame that the powers-that-be have not figured out how to make such a special night a little less boring. Name after name after name. There has to be a more creative way to do this. But since the tradition has been around for a very long time and doesn't seem to be changing any time soon, I guess we're stuck with it.
So we make our own fun and add our own creative elements. For the King family it always starts with the giving of Mom's gift, a jean quilt personalized with pieces of their T-shirts through the years.
And for Mariana, some more special gifts - a sewing kit that was her great-grandmothers, a camera, and her name in lights (kind of).
Now, a special moment is usually when you see your graduate enter for the first time. She rounded the corner and I was all ready for a shot, but then the Good Doctor turned and gave me the cold shoulder.
Oh well. When she went to the stage to sit in a place of honor because she was going to be giving her speech, I thought I had another chance at a great shot. But then she gave me her backside instead.
Oh well, third time's the charm.
Speeches. Names. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. The progression of a graduate.

And finally, fun times with friends and family.

Yesterday, graduation. Today, wisdom teeth. Welcome to the real world, Mariana!