Friday Finds

1. Table terrarium by stone & aster | Gilt
2. Slate neary tee | Raven & Lily 
3. Mason jar branch personalized pillow | Etsy 
4. Navy stripe davis junior beanie | Krochet Kids
5. Tomatoes with thai basil dressing | Healthy Seasonal Recipes
6. Speck Burton iphone case 
7. On My Way To School by Sarah Maizes | Amazon
8. LilGadgets untangled pro children's wireless bluetooth headphones | Amazon
9. DC Aqua eastwood flannel | Zulily 

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Alcohol and honesty: What do I tell my kids about my past drinking?

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This post was sponsored by FAAR in collaboration with the Talk Early campaign, an initiative to empower parents to talk with their kids about alcohol.

How honest should we be with our kids?

That's a question Mark and I are always asking ourselves. About the news. About our neighborhood or neighbors. About family situations. About certain questions we have about faith. We value honesty with each other and are trying to teach our kids that honesty is always the best choice. We want to be the kind of parents who will always talk with our kids about whatever subject comes up. We're big fans of telling the truth.

But how MUCH of the truth? For example, if we get into a discussion about alcohol, how much do we tell the kids about our past drinking?

Both of us come from very religious families that didn't drink. In my family, drinking at all was considered a sin. Both of us also come from families where there has been some alcohol dependency. We're teaching our kids that drinking isn't necessarily bad in itself. They've seen us drink alcohol on occasion, always in moderation. But we also make it clear that alcohol is only for adults—especially adults who approach it cautiously. We teach them that being drunk is a bad thing because it leads to bad decision-making.

Eventually, though, I have a feeling we will shield some of these questions: Have you ever been drunk? Did you ever drink before you were old enough?


The answer is yes. I was a high school drinker. The first time I ever drank alcohol, I got drunk to the point of throwing up. I hated it. Physically, I felt like I was about to die. Emotionally, I was embarrassed. I felt out of control, and that's not a feeling I liked. That one experience scared me so much that I've been very careful about alcohol ever since. I don't drink that much now because of that first time.

So I'll tell my kids that story. I'll disclose it because it's relevant. I'll tell them how it made me feel. I'll tell them how sick I was. I'll talk about hanging around the party crowd in high school, and what I observed from my friends who were always getting drunk. I'll tell my kids about the bad decisions I saw my friends make—decisions about their sexuality or safety.

The same goes for Mark. He drank enough in high school to get drunk a time or two. He'll talk to the kids about his negative experiences with alcohol, too.

We will be honest with them to the degree it's necessary for the purpose of the conversation and their age level.

I'm appreciating the #talkearly campaign, because it's helping me wade through the challenges of talking to kids about these kinds of issues. Communication is SO important to raising kids. And honesty is important to good communication.

How honest will you be about your own drinking if your kids ask?

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What I Want You To Know About Being A Sister Of An Adoptive Sibling

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest posts is by Everly.

When I was eleven, I went to Haiti for the first time and met three kids who would become my siblings. When I was twelve, I moved there as my parents worked tirelessly to complete their adoptions during a presidential coup, an abusive orphanage director coup and deadly rioting. When I was thirteen and fourteen, my siblings came home to the states. We now have a family of ten, with one more on the way from Eastern Europe. 

Adoption has changed my family for the better. I love my adopted siblings dearly and hope to someday adopt children of my own, but there is a side to adoption that many people don't know about. What often goes unnoticed is the fact that when parents adopt children into a family where they already have biological kids, the adopted kids aren't the only ones whose lives are changed forever.
Like I said, adoption changed my family for the better, but it was also the hardest thing we ever did. One of my adopted sisters is two years younger than I am. She was always extremely competitive with me, but to outsiders, nothing was ever her fault. After all, I was the one who should know better, who should be an example, who should be willing to make sacrifices. Hadn't she sacrificed enough in her short life? 

My adopted sister was emotionally and psychologically wounded and she would take this pain out on me, but according to friends and teachers, I was not allowed to complain. I couldn't "know what she has been through" and yet I knew better than any of them did. 

Being an adoptive sister was extremely hard, especially being teenagers together. While I had to work hard to get what I wanted, even if that was just a little attention, my sister had everything handed to her. She would share her story and be given a scholarship, job, wad of cash, new car. She would lie and turn extended family against my parents and I. She would receive honors and awards for academic work she had never done. This was not easy for a little girl to swallow. Because yes, I was a little girl too. And I wanted someone to notice that I had pain in my own life.

I don't say this to compare my hurt to the hurt of a child who has been abandoned at an orphanage or to say that my parents should not have adopted because of how difficult it made my growing up years. I fully support the adoptions. 

What I want you to know is that being an adoptive sister can be very, very difficult. Though I understand how blessed and lucky and fortunate I am to have been born into a functioning family with a house, a car, and food on the table, it was not easy to share those things with someone who treated me the way my adopted sister treated me. It was not easy to go unheard and watch her use and abuse her way through life. It was not easy to have to hide what was precious to me to keep it out of her destructive hands. It wasn't easy to see her manipulate the people I loved to get what she wanted and keep me from what I wanted. 

The toll this older child adoption took on my family, my mental and emotional health, my social life and familial relationships, is immeasurable. My other siblings and I learned to walk on eggshells at home where she was violent and hateful and to ignore her in public where she was everybody's favorite. 

I have asked for my sister's forgiveness and she has asked for mine. Still, we are not close as adults and probably will never have a wonderful relationship. I am thankful that my parents don't try to force this upon us or act like everything is peachy now. I remain very close to my other seven (soon to be eight) siblings and we *all* get together from time to time. This adoption and this sister did not in any way ruin my life, but the wounds that came from those adolescent and teenage years can still sting. 

When I see a family with both biological and adopted children, it warms my heart. And then I feel like grabbing the older biological child by the shoulders and saying, "I know you can hardly stand this some days. I know you want to runaway and go back to your easy childhood somedays. I know that not all of this chaos is your fault and that when you get angry, it isn't because you hate your brothers and sisters. It's okay to not be okay sometimes."

And I wish someone would have said it to me. 

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What it's like being a young black man in America

This guest post is by Wesley Hall. It is a repost from last year because I think it bears repeating in light of current events.

Man, I'm just glad I had a mom who gave me the realness from a young age. I can remember thinking she was so stuck in the past for telling me that I couldn't do or say or wear certain things, that I could not stay out as late as my white friends could, that I could not "experiment" with any of the things my white friends did. I struggled so much with her for trying to impress upon me the fact that I was different. Because I'm not supposed to be. I lived in a nice house, spoke more than one language, was well educated and well socialized and I did not understand why I needed to constantly act in a manner designed to disarm another person's suspicions about me.

What I want you to know about being a young black man in America.

But wow, I get it now. Every black kid has that moment where he has to decide to accept the armor that his parents present to him to get through life as an American black male, or walk around naked. And the crazy part is, it’s probably something most people outside of the black community never see. I can remember my mom talking to me over and over and over again about what to do and who to call if I was ever picked up by a police officer. She made sure I knew that I needed to declare that I was exercising my Miranda rights rather simply evoke them without notice. If you were in JNJ your mom probably made you take a WHOLE FREAKING CLASS on how to deal with police officers and other people who were perceived to be threatening.

And I say that to say that as scary as people think black males are, black males are conditioned to be ten times more afraid of everyone else. We’re conditioned to be afraid of going to certain parts of the country, afraid of people with certain political views, afraid of police officers, and sometimes even afraid of other black and Latino males. The most sickening thing about this whole trial has been the deliberate campaign to rob Trayvon of his right to be afraid. I know I would have been.

I owe my mom the deepest of apologies for all of the times that I accused her of overacting or trying to force-feed me a vision of a society long since passed….. One so different from the one that exists today.
What I didn’t get was this….

It doesn’t matter how well traveled you are or how many languages you speak or who where you went to school. It doesn’t matter how many friends you have or how much good you’ve done in the world. From afar we are all the same.

It used to hurt when my mother would tell me I couldn’t put my hood up or that I couldn’t stay out as late as my white friends. She told me I was a young black male and I couldn’t afford these things, and I figured she never knew how much it hurt for be to know that she did not have faith that I could transcend the many stereotypes that swirl around me and be seen as an individual.

But when I think about my own mother having to come down the police station, and identify my naked body and come home and go in my room that would feel strangely empty. She would have to walk past my favorite custom built aquarium and the framed boards my class in Japan made for me on my last day of study abroad, she would have to open my closet and go through all of the clothes I would never wear again and find my favorite suit and then walk out of a room where every object holds a memory.

She would have to go on interviews and meet with lawyers and try to be strong in the face of unimaginable tragedy. While people picked apart my character and found every face book status where I cursed or every stupid picture I was ever captured in. She would have to sit in court and dignify people who sought to put me in the ground with not a shred of justice with her presence and her silence. And then on top of that, after a year of pain, to hear from 6 other mothers that my life meant nothing........

And the thought that after 24 hours of labor, thousands of dollars on tuition and extra curricular and trips and summer activities, and millions of tiny sacrifices that she could be left only with the dust of my memory and the guilt of having not prepared me for this thing called America.

I joke about it, but I know how much I mean to her. Before I go parasailing I think about her, and before I jump in the ocean I think about her, and when I had tigers crawling all over me and licking my face two months ago, I was thinking about her. But I did those things because I knew that even if I got poisoned by a cobra or mauled by a tiger, that although it would have been hard...... she would have derived comfort from knowing that I died pursuing happiness, adventure, and experiences that were worth their risks.
But I know that she would never ever be able to recover from knowing that I died the way that Trayvon died. And so I understand so well why she taught me to think about the world in the way that I do. To remember how to love life, be open to others, but to always remember who I am and to be so secure in who I am, that I accept that I must constantly think and behave with consideration for that one person who might think they already know.

I have fought with my mom, dad, and step dad about what it means to be a young black man in 2013. And I have at times been annoyed at all of them for presenting me with my constraints. But I am so lucky to have been armed with the truth at such and early age. The world can be so confusing for us. So much kindness, and so much cruelty. We've all accused our parents of over estimating the dangers out there. But they managed to teach us not to allow this country to fill us with fear, while simultaneously not allowing it to rob us of our vigilance. Shout-out to all of the parents out there, giving that extra course on how to keep your children from being victimized in a society that does not believe that they can be victims.

You can keep up with Wesley on facebook and youtube.

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Wednesday's Child: Jay

Every Wednesday I feature a child recently highlighted by a local Wednesday's Child newscast to share the stories of children from around the country who are waiting for a family. My hope is that this can broaden exposure for the children highlighted, but also serve as a reminder that these children represent thousands of children currently in the foster-care system. Perhaps their stories will inspire you to consider opening your home to a child needing a family. For more information and to learn about other waiting children, visit AdoptUsKids.

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