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, October 14, 2017

The look

In the past week or so I've been reviewing my notes for an up-coming speaking engagement. The topic I was given? Loving each of our children through their differences.

It's had me thinking back to when the older children were little. What were their personalities then? What aspects of their personalities were difficult to parent? Easier to parent? Are there remnants of those qualities today? Which ones? Are there any surprises in their adult personalities? Anything I easily would have predicted? Anything that frustrated me in the younger years but which is perfect for who the child has become?

And since Jesse turns 21 today, we'll just park on Jesse for a moment.

He recently started collecting snapshots of himself with "the look".

The look that said, "I'm the middle child."

(At least for now...)

Or maybe it was, "Don't you wish you knew what I'm plotting right now?"

Or just maybe it was, "Wait til you get these photos developed and see how I added character to your photo."

Whatever it was, Jesse has always been our middle child. When I was pregnant with our third child, our doctor (who saw 4 generations of our family) commented, "Well, that one knew he was going to be the middle child before you knew he was going to be a middle child."

Pretty smart man.

And we loved that twinkle, that mischievous look.

Most days.

Some days, however, that need to be the center of attention, to have fun, caused grief and embarrassment when other adults in his life called out the negative behaviors that distracted their classes. And the anger that exploded so quickly with his siblings...

But today, that need to have fun will do him well as a middle school teacher. It serves him well in middle school and high school ministry, giving him the ability to connect.

Happy 21st birthday, Jesse! Don't ever lose "the look"! God put it there, it's who you are, and you wouldn't be you without it.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Redemption wins

There's no pretty school today. Fall break. It's only noon and already I've been slapped twice, hard, on the back (the back that still suffers from the effects of another child's trauma), bear the signs of multiple scratchings on my arms and legs (I guess it's time to put the capris and short sleeves away in favor of longer pants and sleeves), have a bite mark on my hand, had forks and toys thrown at me, and yelled at enough to decrease my hearing. Why? Well, let's see, because I asked him to stop banging the silverware on the steps, the MP3 player needed charging, the chair wasn't in the right place, I asked him to use the potty, the drawer of my sewing table is fake and won't open, he spilled his water when trying to pour from one cup to the other, I won't let him use cleaning supplies, I asked him to wear underwear ..... It really doesn't matter. If he's upset, he's likely to become dysregulated, and I make a good target.

It's days like this when I say enough! I'm done. I can't do this anymore. Parenting trauma is too hard. Loving is too exhausting and painful.

But that's not an option. When we said yes to kids from hard places, we said yes to every single one of their coping mechanisms, all of their trauma-based behaviors, each and every fight, flight, or freeze response. Kind of like marriage - for better or worse.

Some days are better. Some days are worse. So I take a break and separate myself to pray. To claim that promise that this child would be victorious. He WILL be victorious.

And just when I think I can't take anymore he brings me his Braille alphabet book and sweetly tells me he found the letter U and the umbrella. He invites me into his space. So I will go.

But I will go with prayers for all of my friends doing hard things. Stepping into the darkness with people. Holding hands with the weary, grieving, broken. Allowing ourselves to be uncomfortable so others can be comfortable. So others can heal.

Where redemption wins.

I'm tired
I'm worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes to keep on breathing
I've made mistakes
I've let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left
Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart that's frail and torn
I want to know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that's dead inside can be reborn
'Cause I'm worn
I know I need
To lift my eyes up
But I'm too weak
Life just won't let up
And I know that You can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left
Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart that's frail and torn
I want to know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that's dead inside can be reborn
Cause I'm worn
And my prayers are wearing thin
I'm worn even before the day begins
I'm worn I've lost my will to fight
I'm worn so heaven so come and flood my eyes
Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart that's frail and torn
I want to know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that's dead inside can be reborn
Yes all that's dead inside will be reborn
Though I'm worn
Yeah I'm worn

Monday, October 9, 2017

Birthday day

Another Oct. 9. Another birthday. I still remember the first day we met you. It was the same day we realized that you and Eden share a birthday. It went down on the list of confirmations that you were meant to be part of our family. The list is long. God is good.

It's been a year of growth, of changes, of maturity. A year to become. A year of decisions. A year of growing up. Another year of deliverance and of redemption. A year of finding you.

Thank you for your perseverance, for never giving up. Thank you for loving your siblings and standing by your friends.

Happy birthday! Enjoy the day (and the day off from school)!

So go ahead and live like you're loved
It's ok to act like you've been set free
His love has made you more than enough
So go ahead and be who he made you to be

-Live Like You're Loved, Hawk Nelson

Sunday, October 8, 2017

A garden full of joy

When you and your brother share the same birthday, albeit 4 years apart, one of you gets to celebrate a day early. This year it's your turn to go first and we actually celebrated yesterday since today will be busy.

The word that comes to mind when I think about your past year is worship. I love how you live a life of worship even as you move from a tween-ager to a teen-ager. You are a blessing to me and to many others. You know how to connect with kids with special needs, especially your little brother. You see the needs in the communities around you and you want to make a difference. You think outside the box when we talk about social justice issues. You see trauma for what it is and can love through the chaos without taking on the chaos yourself. And you do this all through Heaven's eyes. You are going to be a world changer.
I love to hear you at the piano, worshipping with your voice and fingers. And it's never about you.
Thank you, Eden Joy, for the garden full of joy you bring to our home!

And happy birthday - whatever day you celebrate!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

To market...to market...

This month's family activity was a trip to Saturday's Market, a flea/farm market. The children were allowed to invite a friend, 'cause, why not? The more the merrier. Mariana was in the area and joined us, too, with friend in tow. We divided them into groups according to who gets along with who and who can police themselves without getting into trouble. Worked like a charm. At least, we think.

Each team had a certain amount of money to spend on a snack for themselves while there and also money to buy contributions to supper at home. Since I had assumed (correctly) that everyone would purchase dessert items, I had chicken in the crock-pot at home. The Good Doctor and I also used our allotment to add some more carnivorous choices to the mix. It was still the most unhealthy meal we've ever had but worth it.

For dessert we enjoyed sticky buns, pumpkin roll, chocolate pie, and the largest assortment of Amish made whoopee pies you'd ever find (I think three different teams each bought the latter).

Group games kept us busy til supper time and we learned a little more about each of us.

Thank yous were heard from most so we call it a win. Some people don't want to be pleased and it's not worth wearing yourself out trying. You can only do so much.

Til next month...

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Beatles go to school

This guy was ready for his first day -
and it was FINALLY here!

I was a little concerned when he told me that Johnny Cash was coming along to pretty school with us this morning. And then the Beatles joined us, too. You never know which way these things are going to go. Bringing a few dead guys and live celebrities could be a distraction or it could be a positive experience. Nothing to do but wait and see since telling him that his favorite performers had to stay home would definitely not have ended well.

We pulled into our parking place and I unbuckled him from his seat. Then came the mass exodus as first Paul, then Ringo, John, George, and finally Johnny jumped out after Victor.

The transition went great. We were still all the way at the other end of the parking lot when I told him I thought I saw Ms. Sally (TVI) standing by the front door.


"Victor, I don't think she can hear you. We are too far away."


"Victor, I think we're still too far away. Wait until we get closer."


This time she heard his voice and waved to acknowledge us. She was still too far to hear what he said.

Finally, we were within range, "MS. SALLY, I BROUGHT THE BEATLES!"

"You did?"

"Yeah but they have colds."

"Oh, so they won't be singing for us today?"

"No, they have colds and they don't want you to get their germs."

"Oh, I like that."


And the end of day report? He did great! He played with friends for an hour, didn't have any potty accidents, accepted correction well when banging, and sat (backwards - but he was sitting) with the group at circle time.

Victor says one of the Beatles had a little trouble at pretty school and had to go to the office but he came back. So all in all, I think it was a win of a first day!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Extended family

When of the greatest joys and blessings of my life is having a very large extended family. Growing up, every Friday night was spent at my maternal grandmother's house with aunts, uncles, and many cousins. We were often at my paternal grandparent's house as well, being entertained by an aunt and uncle just a dozen or so years older as well as the usual assortment of aunts, uncles, and cousins.

As an adult, this means an on-going number of weddings, babies, and other life-event celebrations.

This long Labor Day weekend brought my mom's family together for a wedding of one of my cousins and the annual Labor Day camp-out with my dad's family. And now it's not just aunts, uncles, and cousins, but also the children of all of those cousins. I think that my children often don't know the difference between their first cousins and second cousins. Sometimes they see their second cousins more often than their first!

I think that the highlight of Friday night's wedding was that my 96 year old great-grandmother could be there, front and center.

Cara's country, casual, and cowboy boot themed wedding was the perfect place
to wear the dress the Good Doctor deemed "loud". It was originally intended 
for Andrew's graduation but that day was too cold for sleeveless and sandals.

And onto Labor Day with all of its Bauman traditions and new memories. We missed some members, and enjoyed a surprise visit from Lalan and Daya, first time Labor Day campout attendees, and Uncle Leon introduced us to Char for the first time. 

We bridged the ASL/voice gap and played games together and figured out how to put up the tents. And I can vouch for their work as it did not fall down on us in the middle of the night. Of course, once I sent Aunt Ellen in to supervise, I knew we'd be fine.

Teaching Farkle to the next generation, always played
better with a few good bottles of homemade Root Beer.

Nostalgic singing around the campfire by Uncle Leon.

We helped Kirsten find the bottom of her ground cherry pile and answered the weekend's most popular questions, "What are those?" and "What are you going to do with them?"

Coloring for those who needed some therapy.

And of course, the weekend wouldn't be complete without transforming Uncle Carl's man cave into a quilting bee. Another comforter ready to be bound and sent to Mennonite Central Committee.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Flying the nest

During our trip to Kentucky, Jesse asked me how I was feeling about Andrew moving to Kentucky. Not just for college, but for real. My response was quick, "As long as my children are doing what God created them to do, I am happy. I am excited for Andrew and his job with the Governor, doing what he loves to do."

I still agree with that answer but as I've had time to think about it, I'd word it a bit differently. So, to Andrew and all of the King kids, here is my final answer, "As long as you are pursuing your first love, I am happy for you. Because as long as I am pursuing my first love, I can place you in His capable arms. I can be excited instead of worried. I can feel joy instead of possessiveness. I should not be your first love and you should not be mine, so why would I need you to stay close? Why would I want you to stay close? Live for God and for others and I will be here cheering you on, praying for you, and encouraging you, whether close or far. Of course I will miss you but it will make your calls and texts and messages especially meaningful. And hearing your excitement for what you do will give me great joy. I've watched you find your gifts and passions, and steered you in learning opportunities so you could pursue those gifts further. Now you're using them for real. This is what this thing called parenting is all about and I thank God for the privilege of guiding you to this place."

Saturday, August 26, 2017

My two sons

Yes, I am well aware of the fact that I have more than two sons. But for 3 wonderful days, spending more than 18 hours driving, it was just me and my two sons. For 3 days I could forget that there was chaos and stress and rejection at home. For 3 days I could suppress the reality of what I would return to: dishes in the sink, chores not done, attitudes, and the hard work of parenting. For 3 days I could bask in the joy of two grown men who I used to hold in my arms and wonder about their futures. Because for 3 days, we drove to and from Kentucky while helping Andrew move into his first apartment.

They no longer look like this. The hair is shorter. They've cut off the curls. They no longer aspire to be super heroes (or do they?). But they each still have a great sense of humor. And we enjoyed time and conversation together.

They made fun of my commitment to rules.

No more than 5 miles over the speed limit, boys.
But Mom, we just got passed by a lady with a covering!
I don't care. I refuse to get my first-ever speeding ticket just because I was trying to follow you.

They are responsible, polite, caring, and helpful. They love the Lord and they love their mother. And aren't afraid to say it.  They even thanked me.

We toured Andrew's new office building, the Kentucky Capitol, and saw his office and desk. We met his co-workers who all affirmed what we already knew, I have a great son who just finished an internship with the Governor and who was then offered a full-time job. Andrew even let me take a photo of him with his office door. I'm a mom. I'm supposed to embarrass my children.

We ate meat at a Brazilian Steakhouse thanks to Andrew's former job and his former boss who offered him one last chance to use his employee discount. And while the boys were reveling in unlimited, tasty cuts of meat, I cornered them with a talk about marriage. Once they got over their shock and embarrassment, they were polite listeners and humored me doing my Mom duty.

We spent time in Ollie's and Wal-mart, getting all of those important first apartment items. My boys didn't let me down, never missing an opportunity to rearrange the merchandise. Shopping with them is always a treat.

We left Andrew early this morning with a fridge stocked with the most important items, and an apartment well on its way to becoming a comfortable first home and bachelor pad.

On the way home, Jesse carried out his self-proclaimed most important task, he forced me to eat my very first meal from Taco Bell.

And after arriving home, while getting to work on that sink full of dishes, I thanked the Lord for three wonderful days with two godly young men.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Victor-isms...oh joy!

Victor had to have blood drawn and he had to fast before-hand. Afterward he was a little woozy and not himself so the nurses gave him apple juice and I suggested a Panera bagel. Victor's response? "Oh, I'm so excited I'm wagging my tail!"
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?
Mariana: Yes.
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.)
At midnight...
Victor: Mom......Mom.....Mommmmmmmm....MMMMMOOOOOMMMMMMMM!
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

From cows to ducks

It's not easy to find a family activity that is enjoyable, relatable, and do-able for all age groups and ability levels. So we talk a lot about the world not revolving around you, working against the need to be entertained, getting out of it what you put into it, and sometimes, just taking one for the team. Blah. Blah. Blah.
Someday they will rise up and call me blessed.

I think.

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.
I'm not sure any of us are into ducks and some of us aren't even city people, but just spending time together, chatting, making memories, and tracking down all the ducks should be bonding, right?

And whenever Dad makes you gather round for yet another photo, it's gotta be fun, right?

Great fun was had by most.

Try it. You might like it.