Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child. Have fun!
Friday, November 25, 2016
Thankfully (see what I did there?), our Thanksgiving was free and clear and no one had to request the gravy. Although during the two hour trip home we did find out that there were two near-misses where the word gravy was on the tongue but just that quick, wasn't necessary.
We forgot, however, that the King family needn't have been concerned like the rest of the US because we had our own personal reason to be scared for too much family togetherness. His name is Victor.
I think maybe we let our guard down because up until the hour before we were to leave, the worst that had happened was that Victor had hurt an uncle's feelings by calling him by the wrong name (an uncle on the other side of the family, no less) and he had called most of us stupid at least once for not allowing him to do something he wanted but which was not allowed. As an example, Eden got it once because she wouldn't let Victor play with my dad's Phillies bat collection. What do you mean he wasn't allowed to use Steve Carlton's bat as a drumstick on their walls? I guess it could be argued she had it coming, right?
The adults were all quietly sitting around watching a slide show of my parents' recent trip to Italy, and enjoying the stories of their time there. And, if we're totally honest, letting Thanksgiving dinner digest. The four youngest cousins were upstairs doing what youngest cousins do best - have fun together. This particular bit of fun involved sliding down the stairs on their backsides.
And then, as also usually happens with youngest cousin fun, we heard thump thump bam crash thump bam bump.
But it wasn't a person. It was a briefcase. My brother's briefcase. Laptop included.
"Mom, Victor threw it down the steps!"
Well, yay for us? We almost made it out of Thanksgiving unscathed. Almost.
Would someone please pass the gravy?
Go ahead, enjoy some pictures of a simpler, happier time - the annual Thanksgiving day craft...
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Yeah, that happened to one of us last night.
We were all sitting around chatting, having a lovely evening with cousin Molly, when the child enjoying the conversation from the piano bench, started exploring the nooks and crannies and crevices of the piano with his phone. Since one must always look for the silver lining, it would be that he was not at that moment on his phone. In fact, he ended up not being on his phone for many moments after that because to his utter horror, sometimes phones go in piano crevices and then they don't come back out.
If you are similarly addicted to your phone, you can imagine what was going through this young man's mind at this point. To be disconnected from an electronic device, even if only temporarily, could be as damaging to a person's psyche as finding out that your fly was down - all day - when you not only gave a speech to the entire student body in such a fashion but also spent thirty minutes flirting with the cheerleading squad and thought their shy smiles and giggles meant they were similarly infatuated with you but you later found out it was just that stupid fly being down.
Panic ensued. First, he slyly attempted to bring in reinforcements by nonchalantly calling over the brother with the most handy-man skills. But the tone of his voice and the waver in the syllables sent an immediate signal to the whole room: Major Situation in Need of Attention. Stat!
It was so obvious that even the Good Old Doctor got out of his chair in record time (even more amazing since it was his birthday and he was enjoying his lazy-day position in that chair).
Halfway through the dismantling of the piano and the Good Old Doctor could be overheard saying, "Shoun, you need a better filter for your life." Okay, maybe not parent-of-the-year-worthy but true. At least this time.
But, since one must always be looking for the silver lining, it would be that not only was the phone eventually found in the deep recesses of the piano but so was another item that had gone missing (from the same child, mind you). "Oh look," he exclaimed, "and here's my pick from my afro days!"
Yay to lessons learned! You're almost there, son, almost there!
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
For example, I purchased a delicious-sounded authentic Indian meal from a friend's adoption auction a few weeks ago. I thought it sounded like a great birthday present - what father of 9 wouldn't like an evening of adult conversation with his wife and four other friends (did I mention there would be no children present) and bonus, his wife wouldn't be frazzled from meal preparation nor would anyone have to clean up afterward. Since I knew he would see emails being passed around, I told him all about this gift at the time of its purchase. I thought it was a great idea. I thought he liked it, too. Today he couldn't remember conversation or gift.
Anyone want to join me and 4 friends for an authentic Indian meal?
But I also got him a fun little gift, one that I've been wanting since the spring when I saw it on someone else's doorstep. You see, as a continuation of Sunday's post, we've had doorbell problems for about 12 years. A few years back the Good Doctor did attempt to solve the problem but it was a half-hearted attempt and resulted in one of two doorbells working. Of course the one that still doesn't have a working doorbell is the door that we use the most.
So now people know what to do.
Oh, and I explained to the Good Old Doctor why he was receiving such a gift for his birthday, just so he knows how much I love him.
This may seem more like a gift you would give to me (as in one that is really for you) but it comes with the loving promise to never, ever nag you about fixing the doorbell. Happy Birthday!
Sunday, November 20, 2016
And it didn't take us long to figure this out. Not even an hour after Molly had arrived I had to explain to her how to survive in the room we assigned to her for the duration of her visit. Being as kind to the Good Doctor as possible, I explained to Molly that she would need to leave the door to the closet open in the room since it wasn't until after the room was created that the Good Doctor realized the heat vent was in the closet. The bonus is that your clothes will be nice and toasty when getting dressed on cold winter mornings. The downside is that if you forget to leave the closet door open, you will not be nice and toasty on cold winter nights. I also felt it necessary to explain that the Good Doctor had plans to fix this quirk but that since we have been waiting for seven plus years already, she shouldn't expect it to happen during her stay. She assured me that it was no problem and that she understood; there were projects in their house that never did get fixed so her parents just moved instead.
So thats how it works. Looks like we'll be moving soon.
Even better? As I relayed this information to Molly, the Good Doctor expressed his total amazement that this bedroom had heat only in the closet. Apparently he had forgotten. Another one of those family traits. This one I chalk up to the chemicals. Definitely the chemicals.
Well, there seems to be a closet theme around here this week because another closet with another one of those home fix-it jobs that has yet to be completed is fixing the light in my bedroom closet. This project is a bit older, going on about 10 years and as HopeAnne so delightedly reminded us, that's as old as her. So, it cannot all be blamed on me that when I reached into the dark closet this morning to pull out my boots, I inadvertently pulled out two different boots. I will, however, take full credit for not double-checking that I had a pair before putting them on. No one at home decided to enlighten me so it wasn't until after I had been at church for about 30 minutes and was walking down the hallway that I noticed something suspicious: my left boot was making a squeaking sound.
This was significant because this was an odd side effect of wearing my old pair of boots but since one of them had lost a heel last winter, I broke down and bought a new pair this fall (Yes, I wore them with one broken heel for that long and yes, since I'm such a cheapskate, I was still wearing them even though I had bought a new pair because, well, they still had some life in them so why waste a good pair of shoes? At least I had a back-up just in case something worse happened to the old pair.) So I looked down to investigate into why my new pair of boots might be squeaking like the old pair. And that is when I saw this:
Proof positive that
1. I should always look to confirm that my shoes of choice are actually a matching pair.
2. I don't branch out much when choosing new clothes; same color, same heel height, similar looks.
The good news is that I have now gotten rid of the old pair. It's always good to be proactive. Yay for me!
Saturday, November 19, 2016
An Interview with Victor Noah King
Monday, November 14, 2016
Let's be honest, most of live and work within a narrow and limited demographic. Even when we try to position ourselves in a diverse community or workplace we find that even that diversity has its own limited demographic. In that regard, I am grateful to social media for allowing me to have much more diversity in my friendships. Prior to social media, if I stepped out of my comfort zone or that which was "normal" for me for a period of time, my future connectedness with those individuals would be much more limited. Now, the typical pattern is to meet, interact, exchange our social media contact information, and continue to keep in touch at least in some form.
During this election, and especially post-election, I have been pleasantly surprised to find that my friends are pretty evenly split in a 3-way tie, one group having voted for Trump, one for Clinton, and one for neither. The downside to this is that every time I open up my computer I find post after post, article after article, comment after comment with one side disparaging and name-calling the other. This saddens me as neither side seems to really want to get to know the other; only to display his/her own virtues above the other's.
Now, more than ever, we need to look at each other with love. We need to admit our own flaws and blindspots and be willing to have them exposed. We need to look at the plank in our own eye while we to listen to each other with grace. It is easy but simplistic for us to see someone only as the group to which we believe they belong. When we stop to look at the individual, to really get to know that person, and to hear their story, we find that there is so much more below the surface. There is a story that we never knew. Many stories, really. Stories of pain and rejection, hopefully stories of victories and encouragement, but together, those stories are what motivates behavior. I cannot simply choose a box in which to place you based off of a surface relationship with you and I hope you will not choose a box for me - until you really know me. Because often, when we choose a box in which to place someone before taking the time to really know them, we later find that we picked the wrong packaging. How unfortunate to never really know someone and to miss the chance to touch a life for the better and to find our own lives blessed as well.
1 Peter 3:9a
Never return evil for evil or insult for insult (scolding, tongue-lashing, berating), but on the contrary blessing [praying for their welfare, happiness, and protection, and truly pitying and loving them].
Saturday, November 12, 2016
On my birthday Victor brought me a kiddie chair from his room.
"Here's a special chair for your birthday, Mom."
I gave him a napkin to wash his face.
"It's a special washcloth for your birthday."
Victor has just started to enjoy "drawing" which of course is just scribbling with a marker. I'm not sure what this means to him or how much of it he might be able to see. He scribbled a picture and gave it to me, telling me it was Abraham. Then he told me he was going to draw me a red flower. Except that he had a gray marker. Next he drew a blue flower for Eden. With the gray marker. Hope got a pink Abraham. With that same gray marker. Colors, obviously, have no meaning for him although if you ask him his favorite color he will tell you it's red.
Storytelling by Victor
*It really should be recorded visually so you can see that he is moving the whole time he's telling his story.
*This is an actual stream-of-consciousness story by Victor. Well, as actual as it could be. I furiously typed while Victor spoke.
*He clearly struggles with pronouns but loves his adverbs.
"In my German class I played with my son, Frau. Her name is Frau Miller Johnnsy. And then she fell in the toilet but she got up by herself and she said, 'Some people are going to share.' And then she got up from the sofa and was going to share but then she was lost and I was lonesome but then they came back to me. When they happily came to me they said, 'You can go to Miss. Cindy's house. You should be kind.' That's what they said. And they said Dear God when they yelled and screamed but she didn't care and he did something but she didn't care about him. His name is Deanna and she taught me some things. Putting the speakers in the microphone, yeah, they do and she was speaking in there and she thought that they broke. Then they were working now. She happily kissed the microphone and the speakers. What does that mean? So she went away from them and she thought to play with my friend, Josiah. He had to clean the whole room and start to sleep in her bed and she woke him up. She fell in the water and she got up, stood up and then she went to the speaker where they were talking and they happily went to the drums and they played and she heard them. And the drum microphone, the bass was in there. That's all she was hearing. She happily banged on the drum. It quickly happened that she happened to speak in the bass microphone and then she heard the bass and then she heard a drum. So when the story is finished you need to line up at the door and you should open the door. So when she decided to take a nap and woke up in German class, when she did that, she burned herself and then she was at the ER and then she came back to me. She said, 'Go to Miss. Cindy's house. You should be quiet.' She carefully fell in the fire. She didn't smell like smoke but then she went out. MomMom and PopPop were hammering. They had to go downstairs, vacuum, clean up the dirt and I helped PopPop hammer and then I did it myself. When they finished hammering they went home. The End. "
I brought Victor some chips and he said, "Thank you, McDonald's woman."
Victor: What does Oscar do?
Me: He lives in a trashcan and he's grouchy. That means that he's grumpy.
Victor: Yeah, like you when you're upset.
Me: Touche. Especially when you wake me up in the middle of the night.
My cough is still cough-ee. I need to go to the doctor and take my cough.
Victor: Ooooo! You scared me!
Me: How did I scare you?
Victor: Your mouth.
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
All I know is I'm not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong
I found it providential that this was the first song on the radio when I got into the car this morning. Of course the DJs had no idea what time I'd be taking Victor to pretty school but I wonder if they thought about the encouragement found in these words for those of us who belong to another Kingdom but who are in the midst of a circus of an election in the here and now.
I did my duty. I voted. Right after a 3 mile run. I figured it was best to get the worst of my day's activities checked off the list first thing. I'm not sure which was more wearying.
Not being a sticker person, I gave my sticker to HopeAnne. Actually, that's not quite true. I did request a sticker that said, "I Voted...and I apologized to my oldest 3 children that this circus is the first presidential election for which they are eligible to vote." They told me they didn't have one. So I gave my sticker to HopeAnne.
It's funny how many adults become lovers of stickers on voting day. Who knew? Sure will make filling their Christmas stockings less expensive this year. Just purchase a sheet of stickers and apparently they'll be happy. But for me, I gave up that hobby back in elementary school when the sticker book fad disappeared. So I gave my sticker to HopeAnne.
I guess she's not really into the sticker thing either because when we got to the parking lot she told me that she didn't really want to wear it. I happened to look down at that moment and saw multiple stickers on the parking lot. "Funny," I answered, "looks like you aren't the only one." Then we did our second civic duty of the day - we picked up the trash. So now we have a collection of stickers that no one wants to wear. Let me know if you'd like them for your loved one's stocking next month. Even cheaper than a dollar store sticker sheet!
Tomorrow we will know who is next in line to the American throne. And it may be a cliche but I am much more excited to remind myself that we don't have to watch a map of red and blue on the TV screen for hours to find out who is really on the throne. And that is the only thing that keeps me from losing sleep over this election.
Tomorrow morning the political ads will thankfully be over. But unfortunately, the mud-slinging between friends (or "friends" as they're more often known on social media) will continue. A new imperfect person will have made their speech to accept imperfect America's decision about the new leader of our imperfect political system and too many imperfect people, even those who call themselves Christ-followers, will berate and disparage those who believe differently from their own imperfect belief systems.
Lord, let my words and actions model your love and life. Today, tomorrow, and each day after that. May I never expect an imperfect government to do that which you have called your Church to do. Use imperfect me to bring healing and grace to the imperfect people around me, whether or not we agree. Give me blinders and a deaf ear for discouraging words spoken against me in sweeping generalizations, especially by those I love. Guide me into change when I need to change. Show me the plank in my own eye. Let it be known that I am your follower simply through love in action. Amen.
"For people who will vote, I urge them to vote for those they judge most worthy, and to speak no evil against the person they voted against, and to take care that their spirits are not sharpened against people who voted on the other side." John Wesley
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
And all of this means that I go to a lot of weddings. And they are not all alike. Many are, and they run together in my mind. The weddings I enjoy the most are the ones that clearly represent the two people coming together; the weddings that are not cookie cutter representations of all the others.
And believe it or not, I feel the same way about funerals. Due to the nature of a funeral, many of them are just like the one before. But they don't have to be. Especially for Christians. For us, these "celebrations of life" should not look like those of people who have no hope. And because of that, they can more adequately reflect the life of the person who has died.
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 1 Thess. 4:13
It's not that we don't grieve; we are human. Even Jesus wept. Yes, we grieve, but we grieve knowing that there is hope. So in that light I have seen funerals that were decorated like parties, where balloons were launched, where we were asked to dress casually or colorfully, or where favorite or collected items were handed out (you can't take it with you!).
These funerals remind us that while our time is finite and unknown, we can and should be using that time to impact the kingdom for Christ.
I recently attended a funeral with an open sharing time, something that is fairly common. What struck me most about this sharing time was that people didn't know what to say and the silences were awkward. This person was a Christian and so, unfortunately, was every person in attendance. There was no one to share how this person had brought Christ's love to them or stories of a life of Christ-likeness modeled for a watching world. Almost everything that was shared focused on what the person liked, not what the person had done.
I came home with a renewed passion for the people in my world; for reaching out to others, to give sacrificially, and to grow in Christ-likeness. I shared this with my children who had not been at the funeral. I challenged them to really think about what they want people to say at their funeral. And to start to live that kind of life right now. Don't wait. Because we never know what tomorrow holds.
"And like our Savior, who poured out His life and blood so we have reason to rejoice, we were made to lay down our lives and give until it hurts. We are most alive when we are loving and actively giving of ourselves because we were made to do these things. It is when we live like this that the Spirit of God moves and acts in and through us in ways that on our own we are not capable of. This is our purpose for living. This is our hope." (Francis Chan in Forgotten God)