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!
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
And....Victor almost made the dental hygienist pee her pants when he told her that the fluoride treatment smelled like fecal matter.
Yes, those were his exact words.
Me: Hey, Victor, it's time to go to the potty and then we can get a snack.
Victor: I already did it every time today and I don't want to do it. I hate it. I really, really hate it. And it's annoying. And I don't want to do it. And I don't know why. (Continue in like manner for a few more minutes...)
At least he's using words?
"Hello, Wissewa, my lovely."
On the 4th of July, after a few firecrackers went off at the party (which he LOVED!)...
Victor: I'm going to be a firework-er when I grow up.
Eden: Do you mean a firefighter?
Victor: No, a firework-er. I'm going to go bang bang.
Me: Why do you like firecrackers and not dogs? Aren't firecrackers louder than dogs?
Victor: Cause they crack you up and dogs bark you up.
Victor: Mariana, are you brushing your teeth upstairs?
Victor: I thought you were going to brush them downstairs.
Mariana: No, I'm upstairs.
Victor: You're a tricky girl, aren't you?
and then after we all laughed...
Victor: I have a smile on my face. (Just in case we are the ones who can't see and need to know that he enjoyed the joke, too.)
Me: Yes, Victor.
Victor: Mom, I'm so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so tired.
Me: That's because it's midnight. Now guess what? I'm so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so tired, too. Go to sleep.
After so many siblings, you'd think that there is no way Victor could come up with a novel excuse for getting out of bed after being tucked in, but he found a way.
Me: Victor, go back to bed. You don't need anything else.
Victor: I need my imaginary friends. I forgot to get them.
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
In the meantime, with God's help I do what I can.
In 2004, Harrisburg was full of painted cows. We took the kids into the city for a walking tour of the cows and had a wonderful time goofing off, posing, taking photos, and just being together.
So, when I heard that the summer of 2017 brought ducks to the city, I thought this might be a nice family night.
And whenever Dad makes you gather round for yet another photo, it's gotta be fun, right?
Great fun was had by most.
Monday, August 7, 2017
This was the Good Doctor's Facebook status yesterday. He's good with numbers and dates. He can tell you the date of our first date, our first kiss, and yes, our anniversary. I'm not so good at numbers but can usually remember the little details like where we were, what people were wearing, and what was said. The fact that the Good Doctor can remember both from our journey to McBIC, says a lot about that time period in our lives. The fact that the details are fuzzy for me, says even more.
Being a pastor's wife was never something I desired to be. Funny, because I can remember a time when we were dating that I looked at him at thought, "He's going to be a pastor someday." We were standing on the sidewalk outside of our dorms, talking I just looked up and new. (Details, right?) It's probably a good thing that my thoughts didn't connect to the next obvious realization: that continuing to date him would lead to me being the pastor's wife someday. I had seen and heard about a lot of churches and watched a lot of pastors get chewed up and spit out. I knew that many of them needed to work second jobs to raise a family. Later, when I taught in a Christian school, I saw their children come through my classroom and observed the effects of overworked and unavailable pastors on the lives of their children. Of course there are overworked and unavailable fathers in every profession but it seemed most unfortunate when it was the church that pulled their dads away. I watched these children leave my classroom and grow up, only to abandon the faith that pulled their fathers away from them. And I saw the effects on the wives of the pastors.
And then one day the Good Doctor dropped his bombshell. "I think I'm being called to be a pastor." If my memory is correct, he took me out to dinner to tell me this news, an attempt to butter me up first. He later admitted how scared he was to tell me. But he couldn't have known that his announcement would not come as a surprise.
Fast forward almost 10 years and here we were, interviewing at this church with the funny nickname, McBIC. The road here was long. And it was hard. It had been about a year since we first started to feel God nudging us to something else, six months since the Good Doctor had interviewed with his seminary professor's church in New Jersey. We thought that's where we were going but they later decided not to hire anyone, after the powers-that-be couldn't decide if the new hire should be the youth pastor or the children and youth pastor or the family pastor. So many events had transpired between that first interview and finding ourselves interviewing at McBIC that my faith that God could actually have a healthy church for us, in a good location, was pretty slim.
But it just takes the faith of a mustard seed, right?
McBIC has been good for our souls. For our faith journey. And for our prayer lives. For our children. For the King's Strings. For Mariana's acting career. For me. And we probably have only seen a few of the reasons why He needed to call us here. But that's enough. And we only need to be careful that we do not forget His deeds in the past. He was faithful then and He will be faithful in the future.
Monday, July 31, 2017
When we celebrated 1 year, I asked her if she ever thought it would happen, she told me no. It had never happened in any of her other homes, why would this one be any different? On the other hand, she did say that she thought that if we could put up with Victor, maybe we would stick with her, too?
She told Victor this morning that she was 17. He wanted to know if she was still short. Then asked if she was old.
We celebrated with extended family yesterday, donuts this morning, and later we'll have her chosen dinner: chicken and waffles with peanut butter pie for dessert. But mostly she's just working today - the life of a working woman. Anyone want to stop at Subway to wish her happy birthday before 5PM today?
And for those who were wondering, as far as Victor is concerned, it was sugar free, dairy free, grain free donut holes all around!
That was easier than I thought it'd be!
Friday, July 28, 2017
Another year of rides.
Another year of sand.
Another year of crafts.
Monday, July 24, 2017
He told me that he needed to jump over the shells because I refused to carry him. He also told me that he likes the sand now but he used to hate it (one of his favorite words). Thank God for progress.
When we were down in June the water was still cold so he didn't spend as much time in it as he usually does. Today, however, we won't be able to get him out. He jumped and splashed and fell and got back up. Oh, he also licked the water. Maybe he has a salt deficiency?
He told me he was going in his camper. I asked why his camper was full of water? He didn't know.
He said, "Come in the camper with me, Juliet." I asked, "Why am I Juliet?" He explained the obvious, "Because I am Romeo." But then he must have doubted because he asked, "Am I your Romeo?"
He's still calling me Juliet.
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Seven days in, I woke up in a hotel room in New York after dropping Isaac off at music camp the day before. On my phone there was a text from the Good Doctor with this photo:
The Good Doctor found this half-eaten roll on the floor of Victor's room, along with a confession. Yes, Victor had eaten half of it and then for some reason, ditched the rest on the floor. In plain sight. The Good Doctor told me that he was already noticing more crankiness from Victor.
By the time I arrived home three hours later, Victor had moved beyond crankiness to animalistic and violent behaviors. He was banging things and when the items were removed he threw fits like we hadn't seen before. Definitely some of the worst behaviors we've seen. He threw a child's chair and broke it. He repeatedly lifted and banged a kitchen chair up and down. At one point, after I took away kitchen utensils that he was banging on the steps, he sat and rocked and screamed for several minutes, completely inconsolable.
After this episode, I sat on the floor and held him and asked, "Victor, do you remember that piece of bread you ate this morning?" "Yes," he replied. "Victor, that piece of bread is why you are acting like this." He thought a moment and announced, "It was sooooooooo yummy!"
Yummy it might have been but at supper I told the whole family in no uncertain terms that the next time someone leaves a banned substance in an easy-to-find-and-reach location, I would lock that person and Victor in a room together for the rest of the day so they would know what I went through today.*
Another day we were shocked to find Victor quietly sitting on the floor playing with play-doh. He had never initiated this kind of play on his own before. However, we are finding more and more that he can tolerate longer periods of creative play with toys such as Duplos, Bristle Blocks, and magnets. It isn't just banging all day, every day. The play-doh, however, needed to be confiscated when we found Victor sneaking bites of it. Homemade play-doh, after all, is made from flour. When asked what he was doing, Victor told us, "I NEED the salt!" Salt in play-doh, yes. Flour, no.
We have been pleased to find so many benefits of Victor's diet. The 8 hour round trip to pick Isaac up from camp resulted in just one episode of yelling and screaming instead of the continual screaming and defiance we've had on every other road trip. He snuggles more. Plays piano and drums more purposefully. Listens to story after story without repeated reminders to sit down. He sits down for a whole meal rather than spinning in the kitchen while we eat. He doesn't bump into things like a human pin-ball machine. Instead, he is able to calmly move from place-to-place.
And our picky eater is slowly trying new foods and finding new, approved foods to eat.
We're halfway there. In three weeks we can start to slowly reintroduce foods and see whether or not they affect his behavior. Thanks to that half a piece of roll episode, we already know that gluten is an issue. And after a few episodes of dairy ingestion, we also know that this is a trigger. We'll see what else we find.
Even Victor knows there is a difference. He talks about his special diet and comments on times he was mean and then how kind he is now. He has to feel so much better inside. The constant shopping and cooking are well worth the time investment.
*Note to all mandated reporters: This is a joke. I would not lock Victor and another child in a room for a day. I only said this to make the point that I never, ever again want to experience a day like that. We have not, and will not, lock children in their rooms. Ever. Even when they feed Victor banned foods. Even when they throw chairs at me.
Friday, July 7, 2017
The song? The Lord Has a Will.
There are days I hate following His will. Days when it feels like it'd be so much easier to do my own thing, to turn my back on traumatized kids. Days when I wonder if the effects of trauma can ever be healed and a difference made. Days when I don't want to have to look at myself and at what God wants to change in me so that I can better love these kids. Days when I say biological children are hard, why do I need harder than hard? Days when I want to join so many others who simply share needs and the lack of good in the world on social media instead of getting their hands dirty doing the hard work day in and day out.
And some days I do quit. In my mind I say I'm done. I have myself a little pity party. I hide and cry out to God. I tell Him it's too hard and that I don't want this assignment anymore. I tell Him I'm tired of being rejected. I'm tired of being lied to, blatantly disobeyed, and yelled at. I'm tired of chasing after run-aways and tip-toeing around volatile emotions and tempers.
When I'm done, and the tears are gone, and there's nothing left but weariness and quietness, He steps in and speaks words of comfort and encouragement. he rends me of His promised. he brings Scripture to mind. He points me to Jesus and says, "Look, He did the hard work, too. He followed my will. He got His hands and feet dirty. He was rejected. I don't expect you to be perfect like my Son. There is plenty of grace for your mistakes. I only ask that you rest in me. Drink from my living water and keep your roots strong. Nest in me, believing that I will care for you like a mother bird cares for her hatchlings. Allow me to open your eyes to see the blessing of following my will. Yes, there is blessing in the pain. I am there. Open your eyes and see!"
Saturday, July 1, 2017
We've tried all kinds of things. Some things helped a little. Some things not at all. It was suggested that the next step would be a neuro psych evaluation which would probably result in heavy meds. He wouldn't be the first child with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia to head this route. The only problem is that they won't see him until he's 5. And I don't know if I'm strong enough to wait another year.
So we tried a different alternative. And since alternatives are often frowned upon by professionals, we've been pretty quiet about some of the things we've tried. I've heard the arguments - that I'm just a stupid mom who isn't knowledgeable enough to understand what is good for my child. I've been accused of only getting my information from blogs and of blindly listening to other less-informed parents who have been through similar situations and who claim to have found success from alternative methods, and in the end I'm just seeing what I want to see.
Believe me, if it was as easy as seeing what I want to see, I wouldn't bear the scars and black-and-blue marks from being kicked, bitten, and scratched. I wouldn't be sitting on my bathroom floor crying because I've just dealt with the 10th roll-on-the-floor tantrum over something I can't fix and it's just 10AM.
So we decided to try the health, wellness and nutrition route. It just makes sense that God would create our bodies to heal themselves. That's not to say that medications can't be part of that but if medicine has failed us, why shouldn't we try something else?
I came home from the first appointment crying but this time it wasn't a little one's tantrum that set me off. This time it was because a doctor finally listened to me. I felt validated. I felt believed. And for the first time I could begin to trust that someone was going to stick with us until we found some answers.
You don't have to believe me but I know what I live with. I know what life was like "before" and "after". The changes in diet aren't easy for any of us who have to tell him he can't have something he requests but we noticed a difference in just half a day. Five days in, and we realized there was only one tantrum. In five days, just one. Instead of 4 or 5 or more per day. And in those 5 days were two dayswhen I was gone and one of the college kids was in charge - a disruption that would cause any child to dysregulate. But even so, just 1 tantrum in 5 days.
And then this happened. A run-in with the fireplace. He told the nurse that he was on the chair and then he got up and thought he was running to the door but he went the wrong direction. In this case, I think his visual impairment got the best of him and he got himself turned around. Instead of running through the doorway he ran full force into the outside edge of the fireplace.
I can't even imagine what this would have been like prior to this week. Strange people, smells, and noises. Pain. A needle. It would have taken at least three of us to hold him down. And then to lie quietly for the doctor to stitch him up? Again, it would have taken several of us to manage that.
But not now. He was pleasant. He cried as any child would but it only took me holding his hands to calm him. Holding his hands. Not holding him down. And instead of running around and drumming on everything in the exam room while we waited, he drove his "car" to "New Jersey" and told me he was the delivery man. Just like a normal 4 year old with an imagination who would be interested in anything new on wheels.
I'm not saying that he doesn't still yell or prefer to stay outside when I ask him to come in or that he never spins or drums. I am saying that he is more focused and centered. He is calmer. He can sit and attend to a task for more than a few seconds. He is more compliant. He is finally able to concentrate enough to understand cause and effect. And he can stop his racing brain and body long enough for a mid-day nap. That has not happened since he gave up naps 7 months ago. And he spins and drums much less often than before. He is a little boy whose behavior more closely resembles his peers than it did just one week ago.