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!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Our Christmas angel

The Good Doctor's mother likes to say, "Well, you know, you meet all kinds...." I think no one knows this more than those who don't quite fit the mold, or those who love those who don't quite fit the mold. There have been times when we have been out and about with Victor, and we've met people who look at us with disgust or whisper among themselves, their words and meanings written all over their countenance.

And then there are those who go out of their way to show love and care for a child who needs it.

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog about Victor's encounter with a Santa Claus at a family gathering. Victor told Santa that he wanted a working bunny. I had explained how Victor's bunny had been broken for about 11 months yet Victor was still talking about them, in fact, mentions his broken bunny to most everyone he met whether for the first time or the hundredth time; he mentions it almost everyday at pretty school.

A few days later I received a message from someone offering to look at the bunnies, to see if either of them, or even both of them, could be fixed. I passed on the bunnies and we waited for the results.

Yesterday, when arriving home from Ohio, I found this email:

"Bunny I has clearly been engaging in riotous living with little regard for his health and well-being, and as a result, suffers from an advanced case of cirrhosis of the circuit board.  Despite my best efforts, he passed away quietly in his sleep yesterday.  Bunny II seems to have been taking much better care of himself and has responded very well to some vitamin injections and a little physical therapy.  He now appears quite healthy and ready to return to normal activity.  I did see that Bunny I was carrying an organ donor card, and noting they are a perfect transplant match, I'm returning him to you on life-support, just in case Bunny II should require something in the future."

Today we picked up Victor's bunnies (the working one and the organ donor one). He hasn't left his bunny's side. He is being oh so careful and gentle when holding it or picking it up. And if you can't tell, the first photo is Victor's smile at having his bunny back.

Yes, you do meet all kinds but when you meet the giving and loving kind, it helps to alleviate the sting from the negative ones. May we all strive to be the kind of people who bring joy rather than pain. Everyone has gifts and everyone comes across needs right in front of them. We are thankful beyond words for the Christmas angel who was willing to take time to perform surgery on two bunnies, to diagnose the problem in one, to correct it, and to make a little boy happy (and occupied!).

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Books and drums

Okay, so our Christmas wasn't all about the missing yeast.

It was also about books.

I would have loved getting books when I was growing up. My kids, not so much. I'm not sure what happened there; it certainly wasn't for lack of modeling and reading aloud and instructing and good old fashioned trying.

Maybe my braille reader will be my voracious reader.

In the meantime, I can give them books if I feel like it. It's my house and my gifts.

But to sweeten the pot, we told them that if they read the book by the end of January, they can choose a gift card from a stash of random cards we bought. First come, first served.

No, I'm not ashamed to succumb to bribery.

It was also the Christmas of drums. But that's nothing new. I think that might be our reality from now on. Jesse had Victor's name and knew just what to get for him.

And John managed to bring this drum home from Kenya.

Monday, December 26, 2016

A cereal Christmas morning

Some Christmases are more memorable than others. Some are known for circumstances or weather or special people. We have ...

... the Christmas Jesse was Jesus
... the Christmas Andrew and Jesse put their underwear on their heads
... the Christmas all the kids had the stomach flu
... the Christmas we met my brother's family at an indoor water park
... the Christmas we transitioned to my parents' new home

And this year shall forevermore be known as the year I forgot the yeast.

Every year, as tradition dictates, we have a movie night Christmas Eve Eve. At some point during either the first or second movie, the cinnamon roll fairy quietly excuses herself to get the cinnamon rolls ready to rise. She then joins the family who has no idea that she ever left (someone, please let tell her if Miss. Daisy dies at the end of the movie or lives to berate Hoke for another day). Christmas Eve morning she wakes up bright and early to prepare the cinnamon rolls to rise again and then everyone wakes up to cinnamon rolls that appear to have made themselves and to have magically plopped themselves on the center of the breakfast table. As if one morning is not enough, the whole scenario repeats itself Christmas Eve and Christmas morning at my parents'  house where we wake up to another round of magically appearing cinnamon rolls.

Except this year, someone forgot to pack the yeast for MomMom and PopPop's house.  The cinnamon roll fairy was all set to get the ball rolling Christmas Eve while everyone else chatted in the living room. She looked in the refrigerator where she had emptied her cold food bags and couldn't find the yeast. She looked again. She even looked in the bag with the dry ingredients in case she had mistakenly placed it there. Alas, there was no yeast to be found.

If it had been any other ingredient, her mother would have had plenty. But yeast, who keeps yeast around just in case?

No problem, the Good Doctor was ready to help out. Certain that a grocery store would still be open, he headed out to find some yeast. Closed. He tried Wal-mart. They're always open, right? Closed. At least they're giving their employees a holiday. He even tried a gas station/deli but of course they don't stock yeast. "Yup, we're traveling from Massachusetts to Florida  for the holidays, and well, the missus is wondering if you might happen to have some yeast?"

Nope. No yeast for the weary traveler.

So, while visions of sugarplums danced in the heads of the rest of the family, the cinnamon roll fairy  was awake in bed trying to figure out how she could have forgotten the first ingredient, the main ingredient for the cinnamon rolls.

Merry Christmas, everyone, enjoy your cereal!

Note: No family members were harmed by a Christmas morning without cinnamon rolls - their grandfather saved the day by filling in as Donut Fairy. Wawa may not have yeast but they do have donuts.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas, 2016

The King Family year brought to you in a 25 day countdown…

25 – On June 29th we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with a day planned out by the kids and my parents. The day ended with a meal prepared and cleaned up by them and with all of us (and even a few significant others) around the dining room table.

24 – The number of words in one of my favorite quotes from 2016, spoken by one of my favorite speakers, Christine Caine: “God takes highly unlikely people, takes them into highly unlikely places, gives them a highly unlikely strategy, and gives them a highly unlikely outcome. “

23 – The approximate number of trips the King Taxi takes weekly, to and from various activities like viola (Isaac, HopeAnne), violin (Eden), Messiah College orchestra (Isaac), voice/keyboarding (Mary), swim team (Shoun), dance (Mary), running (HopeAnne) and sign language (Eden).

22 – The approximate number of times I say don’t in the first five minutes of the day as in, “Don’t lick the drain,” “Don’t throw your potty down the stairs,” and “Don’t play drums until at least 6AM.”

21 – The age of our oldest. That makes us old, too. Andrew will graduate from Asbury University in the spring with a degree in media communication and an emphasis in film and TV production.

20 – The age of our second oldest. Jesse is at Eastern University for his second year, studying middle education with a focus in math and science.

19 – The number of days between today and Christmas – time to get this letter finished!

18 – And the age of our third oldest. Mariana is a freshman at Marymount Manhattan in NYC studying theatre arts with a concentration in theatre performance and a minor in musical theatre.

17 – The number of King’s Strings concerts this year. The group is constantly evolving as children graduate and new ones join us. The number of concerts has gone down but so has our need to fund lessons and purchase new instruments. God has it well-orchestrated.

16 – Mary and Shoun turned 16 this year and John has the unenviable task of teaching them to drive.

15 – Isaac is 15 but turns 16 in January. That’s three who need to learn to drive. Pray for John.

14 – The number of days I spent at the beach this year. The family joined me for most of them but it’s always refreshing and relaxing to spend a few days alone at my favorite place.

13 – The number of years we’ve lived in Mechanicsburg. It’s hard to believe that this is the longest we’ve lived in one home. The move in 2003 was difficult but we know that we are right where God wanted (and needed) us to be. Our encouragement to you is: If God calls you to go, you go.

12 – Eden is 12 years old and in 6th grade at Infinity Charter School. This is her second year there.

11 – The number of people around my dining room table this Christmas.  Sometimes more if we’re joined by a significant other or two.

10 – HopeAnne turned 10 this year and after struggling this summer to do the thing that she loves most – run – was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma. Now she runs with a smile again.

9 – The number of King kids. John might think it’s the new number of completion. I  disagree.

8 – In August, John, Shoun, and my dad traveled to Kenya to serve on a missions team. Shoun was also able to visit with many family members. A highlight of the trip was lion sightings while on safari.

7 – In July Andrew left for Brazil to serve as a camera intern for the Olympics. He was able to enjoy several events along with seeing many athletes through the lens of a camera. He is hoping that connections there may lead to a position at the winter games.

6 – It was in June that our family grew again. After HopeAnne’s sister lived with us for a few months last year, we asked that our home study be kept open. It didn’t take long for our agency to call us about a 15 year old in need of a home. God and I have had many talks about why He keeps sending me teenagers but we have been so blessed to have Mary in our home. She really did fit right in.

5 – It only took 5 hundred and eight days but Victor is finally, officially (barring yet another setback) potty trained. This has been an issue as he has transitioned into preschool (“pretty” school to him) this year. Now if we could just get him to sit still, to be obedient to teachers, to stop spitting, spinning, and self-injury. Never a dull moment.

4 – April was the month of Victor’s third birthday. He was pleased that we were able to resurrect Johnny Cash to join us for the day. We are thankful for friends who are willing to bring joy to a special little boy, even by playing a dead country singer for an evening.

3 – And about that 3 year old, Victor. We would be fooling ourselves if we didn’t acknowledge the frustration and discouragement that have come from parenting a child with special needs. However, we can also say that Victor has truly been a blessing to us. He is teaching us more about loving like Jesus, with compassion and grace and expecting nothing in return, than any other life situation could. And what joy his successes bring!

2 – The number of adoptions we hope to see finalized in our family in 2017 – for Shoun (finally!) and Mary (who surprised John on his birthday by announcing that she had told her caseworker she wanted her goal changed to adoption!). Home study #????? here we go…..

1 – The reason for the season is the One in whom we put all of our hope and trust. Twenty five years of marriage has brought us a number of ups and downs, but through it all, we can praise God for all that we have learned and the ways in which we have grown closer to Him and more like Him. We don’t know what the new year brings for any one of us but we are not anxious and we do not worry; the baby born in Bethlehem so many years ago died so that we might have life and freedom in Him. Daily we make the choice to put our hope and trust in Him and not in people or things that will ultimately fail us. And with the love and grace that we receive, we strive to always pass the same along to others.

We are thankful for each and every one of you. Thank you for the role you have played in our lives and in our hearts.

Merry Christmas!
For the whole King Family

Monday, December 19, 2016

Unforgettable Victor

A very special Santa and a very special boy.

Of course Victor asked Santa for a working bunny. Anyone who knows Victor knows that he tells everyone about his broken bunny - an MP3 bunny - that broke. Last January.  We still talk about it. Daily. To anyone who will listen.

Afterward, Santa posted this comment about his time with Victor:
"This young fellow could not see me but I will never forget him."

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Victor-isms never end

Victor: Mom, I'm getting thirsty and thirsty and thirsty.
Me: So, what are you trying to say?
Victor: Give me some thirsty water.

Medical evaluations by Victor:

Victor: Mom, can you get me some medicine?
Me: Why do you need medicine?
Victor: For my speaking. My speaking is not working and it sounds funny.
After a coughing fit, I asked Victor if he had something stuck in his throat and he answered, "It's not a frog."
"I can't breathe through my breath."
"Mom, most of all, my butt feels cracky again."
And now he diagnoses electronics....

Victor was recently introduced to the wonders of a record player. One morning I was awakened at 2:30 so he could tell me that the needle on his CD player was broken.

The CD was skipping; I'll give him that much.
The Christmas story according to Victor:

Victor: Christmas is about Jesse and his birthday.
Me:  Close. We celebrate Christmas because it's Jesus' birthday. What was his mommy's name?
Victor: Mary.
Me: Right! What was his daddy's name?
Victor: Elisha.
Me: Close. It was Joseph.
Victor: And...And Mary had a little lamb. Well, I have another clue and the angel said that you're going to have a baby. Mary and Joseph were afraid. Do you know why they were afraid?
Me: Why are they afraid?
Victor: Because they heard a jackhammer.

Saturday, December 17, 2016


Painting cookies has been a family tradition since I was little. What fun to have Andrew and Sarah home to pass the tradition on to Victor.

Although, admittedly, he had a little trouble with this snowman.
Looked a little bit like a snowman in summer by the time Victor was finished with it.

We always start out with so much enthusiasm but then the cookies keep coming and we run out of creative ideas for decorating. Some parts of traditions never change.