Wednesday's Child: Joseph in Louisville

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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If you wouldn’t say it about a boob job . . . (a guide for adoption questions)

My friend and fellow adoptive parent Jesse Butterworth just made this hilarious guide for knowing when and when not to ask questions about adoption, using a boob job as a reference point. I think it works quite nicely.


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Questions of eternal significance: We’re talking about pens today.

Are you a pen snob?

I have never understood the people who buy expensive pens. When I was in private practice there was a guy in my office who kept an expensive Montblanc pen on his desk. Inevitably some intern would grab it to write notes, or hand it to a client to write a check, and it would wind up in the communal cup of office pens, or worse . . . lost completely. And then there would be a bunch of inter-office drama because his pen was lost, and had anyone seen it? Can everyone stop what they are doing and check to see if they have the bougie pen? And I would inwardly roll my eyes because WHHHHHYYYY?? Why have an expensive pen?

I’ve always seen pens as disposable community property. If I loan someone a pen, I don’t expect it back. I would never pay a lot for one because I’m forever losing them. I can barely keep track of my sunglasses.

That being said, I AM a bit of a pen snob in that I have a few kinds that I really prefer writing with. They are a bit more than your typical cheapie Bics, but still pretty reasonable. My lifelong favorite pen has been this guy:

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I know it sounds crazy but my handwriting just looks exponentially better with this pen. I usually buy these in bulk and have them around the house. Although . . . here’s another mystery of the human condition. Despite buying these constantly, whenever I go to grab a pen from the pen drawer, the only thing available is a bank pen that doesn’t work, an unsharpened pencil, and an orange crayon. Seriously . . . I can never find a working pen, and my mom’s house is the same way. It’s like an awful genetic condition that I’ve inherited.

Lately, my love for the Precise V5 has been upstaged by a new discovery . . . Le Pen. I know. The name is super cheesy. But it writes like a dream. I don’t know how this thing found it’s way into my life . . . one day, it was just there, in my purse. But I love it. It’s like a tiny pointed marker and everything I write with it just looks prettier.

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How about you? What’s your favorite pen? Are you a snob, or do you care? Do you actually buy expensive pens?

Also: Has your handwriting become horrible in the last decade or is it just me? I swear my print used to be cute. Now my handwriting looks like a child.

PS Please tell me you’ve seen the Amazon reviews for Bic for Her pens. One of the funniest things on the internet.


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Easter 2014

Some snapshots from our Easter weekend . . .
 
 
On Saturday, we dyed 36 eggs, a fact I’m now living to regret as I try to force egg salad sandwiches on everyone in the house.

 

 
We go pretty light on the Easter baskets. Some new books, some fair-trade chocolate, some peeps. (I realized after the fact that Mark was accidently photo-bombing this photo with his butt. You’re welcome for that.)

 

 
We managed to make it to the early service at Verizon Amphitheater, which was another example of an Easter miracle.
 

 
The service was packed, the sun was bright, and my knee injury was letting me know that walking 1/2 mile from the parking lot in heels was not my best move. So we skipped out a bit early to avoid the crowds and headed over to a small church in our neighborhood for a more low-key Easter service. It was lovely.


 
The kids had an Easter egg hunt after Sunday School, and I tried in vain to limit their sugar intake.
 


 
After church grandma, grandpa, and the cousins came over for brunch. We had another egg hunt in the backyard.

 
 

 
I made a sweet potato, kale, and goat cheese frittata that was really tasty. This was my first time using a cast-iron skillet. I was really excited about it until I had to clean it. Yikes.
 
After lunch, I tried to find the Easter Parade on Netflix, but no luck. But Netflix recommended another movie I watched frequently as a child: The Pirates of Penzance. There is nothing hotter than Kevin Kline as the pirate king. I still love this movie. I was a bit more excited than the kids.
 

And then we took a big long nap.


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Setting the stage for our kids to confide in us

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

My oldest is nine years old. Which seems ridiculously old at this point in our lives. Though in about six years, that sentence I just wrote will seem really, really cute. Nine! What tiny babies I had back then, I'll tell myself, attempting not to ugly cry.

His age—nine—sticks with me because of a graphic I saw from the #TalkEarly campaign. The focus was about the importance of talking with your kids about alcohol, and it compared a nine year-old's attitude with that of a 13 year-old. Those four years make a huge difference.

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All our kids, thankfully, are at the age where they want to talk to us and love to be with us. It's a time we need to remember and love because it won't last forever. (It didn't when I was a kid, that's for sure.)

Which is why we take our conversations seriously. Our oldest is at the prime age when we should be talking to him about alcohol, drinking, choices, temptation, and all the stuff he eventually WON'T want us to talk to him about. He's not dealing with those issues now, but it won't be long.

At the  #TalkEarly summit, Dr. Tony Wolf said nine years old was the time we ought to start having these kinds of conversations.

So how do Mark and I get our kids to talk—not just to listen to us, but to confide in us? How do we create a culture of conversation? Here's what I'm learning:

1. We have to earn their trust. This starts early. When one of our kids complains to us about a problem, we have to be very cautious about being critical. Let's say a kid is having a difficult relationship with another kid at school. He tells us about it, and immediately I start digging into him to figure out what he's doing to cause the problem. That's me making assumptions. That's me blaming him. When I do that today, tomorrow he'll think twice about telling me about the problem in the first place. He needs to know I'm on his team.

2. We put in the time. If we don't have shared time together, we won't have time to talk. Bedtime is a great time for this and it's one reason we have a nightly routine with each kid. We want to build in that time to be alone together, even if it means pushing bedtime back a little because they want to talk. Dinnertime is another point of the day where we share with each other, answer questions, and talk about feelings. Hiking or taking walks around the neighborhood is another good way to do it. One thing I need to get better at is scheduling this kind of time with each of my four kids. We're a big family together but not always alone together.

3. We have to listen. One of the ways we earn trust is by listening. When we think about talking with our kids, we usually think about convincing them of something or giving them a lecture. But a conversation takes two people. It's not just me talking TO Jafta, Kembe, India, or Karis. It's hard, y'all. I get things done. My tendency is to just stomp right in and offer a quick fix. But when I do that, I miss out on helping them sort through their emotions and figure out solutions on their own. One of the phrases I find myself saying all the time is "tell me more." Then I shut up.

4. We keep their secrets. Not from each other—I don't need to be keeping any of our kids' secrets from Mark—but when they tell us something personal, it's not our place to blab about it to our friends, our family, or my blog readers. (Sorry, everyone!) If one of my boys happens to share that he has a crush on a girl at school, then it is not my place to share that with anyone else. Even if I think it's the cutest thing ever. Gossip and spilled secrets ruin trust.

5. We ask questions. Mark and I are constantly asking our kids questions. About their friends. About what happened at school. About what they love, or how they feel, or what they think about something or other. Questions are what we do when we're together. We even ask questions when they are with friends, because you can learn a lot from what your kids' friends say and what your kids say when around friends. Part of our conversation culture is built around questions, and I'm hoping that by making them comfortable with questions now, we help keep the communication lines open as they grow older (and the questions become harder).

6. We encourage. When our kids do confide in us, we encourage them. We tell them how thankful we are that they felt free to share their feelings or fears with us. We want them to leave the conversation feeling relief rather than guilt. At this age, our conversations should be places where they feel comfortable.

7. We apologize when we're wrong. Parents are human and make mistakes. Eventually our kids will reach an age where we need to tell them about past mistakes we made—with alcohol, with peer pressure, etc. They aren't there yet, thank goodness. But they do need to understand that we're human. If I fly off the handle or say something I shouldn't have, I tell the kids that I'm sorry. I ask them to forgive me.

Conversation takes practice. Getting your kids to confide in you isn't just a switch that you can flip on or off, especially once they've become surly teenagers. It's a culture we are trying to build right now with our 9 year-old, and with our 7 year-olds and even with Karis. We model it for them now while hoping that, in a few years when they hate everyone and everything, they won't hate us. Because we're safe. That's why we talk early.

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

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