Thursday, August 13, 2015

Pinchback Party of SEVEN


Little Miss has an announcement and mama wakes up with a little panic in her belly every morning.

FIVE children. Five children six and under. Lord, help me.

Two weeks ago I spent an hour digging through all of our bills, prepping the financial section of our foster license renewal and Ben hunched over our house plans looking for room dimensions. Every year I say I'm going to make a copy of the paperwork and every year I am filling it out at the last minute and don't have time.

I am never doing this, again, I said. I hate the paperwork that much. Because Missy's adoption is still not finalized, we didn't have a choice. As I finished up, I muttered to the Lord, "Any additional children you have for us have to come, this year. I can't do this again." 

I need a break from all of it.

Of course, our licensing worker came and asked us if we would adopt Baby Brother. That's how God works in our life. He never lets us get too comfortable. 

Remember this post when Ben begged me not to fall in love with Baby Brother - when Little Miss and I went to meet him? I'm not sure why we never did a visit after that. I didn't ask because we had enough chaos in our schedule.

I remember the exact moment she told me she was pregnant with him. The moment I laid hands on her and prayed that God would help her push through and conquer addiction. I can't explain the love I have for this young girl and even though I hoped that Baby Brother's foster family would adopt him, I think I always knew we would say yes if needed.

Earlier, this summer, we were told that Baby Brother's case was going to move toward parental termination, quickly, because mom wasn't participating and that his foster family wasn't sure about adoption. We were already overwhelmed and started asking some of our closest friends and family if they would consider adopting him to keep him close. 

Three weeks ago, my girlfriend and I prepared for a garage sale and I sold all my baby stuff. I was confident that we were done with babies, but at the last minute, I did pull my toddler boys clothes "just in case". It never crossed my mind that Baby Brother would need an adoptive family this soon. He's only five months old.

The case worker asked us last Wednesday night and we had until Monday morning to decide.

From the moment she asked, my heart screamed yes. I didn't even have to think. I'm a lover and jump in with both feet every time. Ben didn't have to say a word...I knew his answer was no.

He is our provider and protector and already feels stretched beyond capacity. He humored me, that night, and I talked through solutions to every challenge (there are many). Before we went to bed, I asked him to keep his heart open and, prayerfully, consider his answer through the weekend. 

I trust God in all things and I also trust my husband's leadership. My reckless love can lead me astray sometimes. I appreciate Ben's steady heart and told him so. He needed to know that if his answer was "no", my heart wouldn't hold anger or resentment. Frankly, I would have been relieved.

I felt pressed all weekend and I was in and out of tears for most of it. The pressure of such a major life decision weighed, heavily, on both of us. Our four babies were at the forefront of our concern.

On Sunday night, my mom came put the kids to bed and Ben and I headed to the grocery store. The perfect environment for long, meaningful conversations. By the time we walked in, our decision was made and tears were flooding my face.

I have spent all week praising God for giving me a husband whose love reflects the Father's. Ben gave me three reasons that led to his yes. And each one made me love him more.

He couldn't think of a greater way to honor our kids' mom and dad than by giving them the peace of mind that their babies are together; he felt that his greatest reasons for saying "no" were self-focused; and in the middle of worship on Sunday morning, when he cried out to God, he knew.

Ben asked the Lord, "Are you really asking this of me?" and not only did he hear "yes", but it was followed with a gentle, "I will find someone else if you can't do it." 

Ben didn't say yes to a five month old baby because I pressured him. He didn't say yes to caring for #5 because no one else would. Ben said, yes, because he never wants to be passed by.

Just like young Samuel, we shout, LORD! Here we are! We are ready for service. We can handle the work. Please don't ever pass us by.

Baby Brother should be home in September.





Friday, July 31, 2015

FF: Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad, Chicken Crispers, & Frosted Lemonade


We've been having such a great summer and eating our fill of fruit salad and popsicles...but from time to time we still eat a civilized meal!

These three items have become new staples, this summer; I hope you enjoy them, too!

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
This, wonderfully, light salad came from Spicy Southern Kitchen. I admit. I've made it five times, this month.

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad with an easy and creamy homemade Caesar dressing. Great as a side dish or light summer meal.

These are not-so-light, but got rave reviews from Ben and ALL the kids!! (Also came from Spicy Southern Kitchen).
Chicken Crispers (Chili's copycat) - super flavorful chicken tenders. This batter is really awesome and has a nontraditional ingredient.

And these...

When Ty and I were in Colorado we went to Chic-fil-A with Rebekah, which we don't have in these parts, and on whim I ordered a frosted lemonade. It was so divine, I (literally) could not stop thinking about it. This copy-cat recipe nailed it and I indulge at least a few times a week....

Frosted Lemonade copy cat recipe from Chick fil A

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

This and That

Things have been a little nutty over, here, this week. For starters, it's "Shark Week" and when your house supports as many boys as mine, this is a main event. I have, literally, recorded every documentary Discovery is showcasing, this week, and we have spent most of our down time midday and after dinner getting our fill of every noted Mako and mega shark on the planet.

To be honest, the break from Star Wars has been refreshing and I will never complain about the extra snuggles that Franken-sharks bring. 

 
  
Speaking of "Frankie", Little Miss brought home the fist-Pinchback-kid-to-get-rushed-to-the-emergency-room award, this weekend. We were walking - well, mom and dad were walking - to the van to load up for a fireworks show and Missy tripped on the pavement and fell onto the van's edge (in front of the sliding door). I am so thankful that both Ben and BFF were the first on the scene because I don't do well with blood...and there was so much. Baby girl came home with 8 staples on the side of her head. She hardly fussed through the whole ordeal and had most of the staff stunned.

The girl is a warrior with a pain tolerance well beyond mine. She would like to be back to life as normal, but mom is keeping her down by making her stay indoors and relaxing as much as one near-two year old can. I will be thankful when the staples can come out in a few days. It's pretty gnarly looking.

Cisco brought us a little comic relief, however, when he applied his newly purchased deodorant for the first time, today. It appears (or smells like), he has turned man a shade early and although I thought it ridiculous to start him on a daily cleansing and care routine at five - it was necessary. I must have sniffed a dozen deodorant options in Target to find the one that didn't bring to memory swarms of high school girls or half-naked cowboys. 

When I handed him a nice neutral stick, this morning, and taught him how to properly use it, he held it with such pride I couldn't stifle my laugh. With each stroke, I swear, LJ's eye's got bigger, and finally in complete awe, he said, "Cisco...You are AWESOME."

Both Ty and LJ were all over me about when they could become "men", too, to which I responded, "When you start smelling like one."

At one point, this afternoon, Ty said, "Mom, I know it's creepy...but I can't stop smelling Cisco's arm pits. They smell SO good." I laughed so hard. Raising boys the same age is the best.

If all of that wasn't enough to keep me on my tiptoes, LJ is in the early rounds of neurology testing. I will certainly dive into this more as we get deeper, but we opened this door, last week, with some encouragement from our pediatrician. LJ really struggled in school, this year. Despite his challenges, he was pretty strong academically, but his inability to focus, control impulses, and regulate his emotions created a very tumultuous environment. He had an absolute angel of a teacher that has become one of his loudest cheerleaders. As I've, prayerfully, been assessing the needs of all our kids, now that the chaos of foster care has settled down, I couldn't fight the nagging in my spirit when it came to LJ. I had very low expectations going into the neurologist based on my own experiences with the professionals that have tried to intervene and help us up to this point. 

By the time I left the office, I was crying tears of relief that God had brought us the right person. The further I walk this path, the more I realize the importance of our beginnings. The same ones that most of us take for granted and never consider. Cisco and LJ are interesting to compare because although Cisco had more memories, worse anxiety, and non-existent self-esteem, he is in a healthier place (emotionally) after only 18 months of living with us. I believe the root cause of LJ's emotions are, directly, tied to the fact that he lived in 8 homes before he turned three, which, certainly, did not give him the opportunity to develop in one healthy, stable environment. We poured everything we had into him our first year...but the damage had already been done.

I don't say that in a we-should-give-up kind of way. I'm still the girl that believes God redeems ALL things. I, am, however, advocating hard that we pinpoint the exact problem(s), so that we can move toward healthy solutions.

I was won-over when the neurologist said to me, "This boy, here, is full of treasure. You know that. We are, simply, going to find the key to unlock all the mystery." 

Right off the bat, LJ's blood work revealed some weakness in his diet (he had slight dehydration and low hemoglobin levels), which is very surprising because he is our best/most balanced eater. This week, we have two TOVA tests (monitors attention and impulse), an EEG (records brain activity), and more blood work.

One of the questions the doctor asked me is if I have noticed a spike in his behavior and/or emotions, this year. Although, my response was instant, I believe it thoughtful. No. 

When it comes to identify, confidence, and security, LJ's past has been redeemed. His emotions are a different beast. One we've never been able to wrangle. He is not aggressive in any way, but he is quick to break down in body shaking sobs. It could be that he slammed his hand in the door and the response is deserving...but it could also be that he can't get his shoe on - the same shoe he puts on every day with no problem.

This probably could be a pretty scary door to open, without faith. Some of the conditions we will be testing are unnerving to think about. But, I am not fearful. I am so full of hope and complete gratitude that God led us to the right person. My trust is not in our neurologist, but I do trust that God is going to use him to help our family.

More adventure to come.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

FAQ: Did you ever worry for Tyrus?

Today's FAQ comes from one of you! Right before Ty and I set off for Colorado, this question was asked of Rebekah, and I was just as eager to hear the answer, as it was never a question that I had considered before. Rebekah's response is such a beautiful view into her heart and love for her son; she inspires me more than she'll ever know. Here is the question that was asked:

Rebekah,
Those of us that follow this sweet amazing blog (I'm sure you do also!) so respect and admire the raw emotion Rebekah shares in her writings - going back to when they first had LJ, some of the trials, then with Sweet Boy and Missy. Did you ever worry/fear it was too difficult for Tyrus, maybe it would adversely effect him, or think maybe he deserved more stability? I absolutely mean no disrespect, and love the Pinchback family. Just wonder how you felt reading Rebekah's posts

Rebekah (Ty's first mother) responds:

Thank you for your question. I can understand the angle you are coming from; however, the thought actually never crossed my mind that Tyrus was possibly in an unstable environment. I always knew that Rebekah and Ben would have more children. I never wanted Tyrus to be an only child so you can imagine my excitement when he became an older brother. In my experience, families go through emotionally challenging times no matter how the family was put together (adoption or by natural means). What I am trying to say is, every family has the possibility of having a child that has an emotional need, or autism, or down syndrome, or any other unfortunate circumstance. Does this bring instability to a family? Absolutely not! I think if dealt with properly, it can actually bring a family closer. Tyrus is a very special boy. He has incredible patience and a nurturing spirit. I know that Tyrus was put in the Pinchback family because he was supposed to be a big brother to those who need his unconditional love and gentle personality. I have never once questioned the stability of his home. I did, however, question the stability of my home at the time of his birth and that is why I chose open adoption.

_______________________________________________________________


If you would like to have either Rebekah or me respond to your question, please email or leave it in the comment section below.

Friday, June 26, 2015

FF: Burrito Bowls


I don't know about you, but I could eat at Chipotle every single day of the week. I have tried a few different copy-cat recipes, but they never taste as good. THIS one, however, is amazing and earned me 5 stars from all three boys! Ben's vote doesn't count, he was congested....and let's be honest...he's a harsh critic.

I found this recipe on Simply Scratch.

Chipotle Chicken Fajita Rice Bowl

chopped chipotle chicken 

AH-Mazing in all of its lime-y, cilantro goodness! I was drooling over the marinade alone. It smells divine.

Everyone got to make their own bowl...or three, which made for some very happy campers. I used some of my leftover frozen chipotle peppers from this dinner.

Next time I would serve it up with tortilla chips (I completely forgot). We kept it simple and had bowls and blueberries. There were no complaints.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Simplifying


Last year was such an incredibly challenging year and even though God gave us the strength we needed to endure it, the stride was not sustainable, nor without effect. A few months ago I spent, nearly, two weeks crying out to the Lord (literal crying), asking for a strategy to simply my life. Something had to change and I asked him to start with me.

I reduced my hours at work, which made the most noticeable difference in my time, but a close second was cutting out TV. I never was big into shows, but pure exhaustion led me to the couch night after night and soon I was lost to more than a dozen fictional families. It had become my go-to stress release; watching the drama in their lives allowed me to take a break from my own.

Stage two of this revolution came in organizing my newly found time into three parts:

  1. Daily intimacy with God
  2. Meaningful moments with my family
  3. Tackling projects around the house (prioritized by the amount of crazy they will relieve from my routine)
It has only been a month...but I am a new woman. Every exhale meets a state of rest and I'm a way better wife and mother for it.

Self-reflection has been a natural part of this toxic purge and personal discovery the reward behind every car load to the nearest secondhand store.

A few days ago, I had two positive encounters that I brought back to my prayer closet. Two different women on the same day interacted with my kids in such a way that prompted a longing in my heart to duplicate their gentle demeanors.

I quietly sat thinking about the love they expressed, wishing their softness was standard with my model, when the Holy Spirit’s presence filled the room and spoke to my identity. His rebuke was swift, but heavy – Don’t pray to be more like anyone else. Pray to be exactly who your children need you to be.

My spirit man affirmed the truth spoken and I sat in awe of God’s care for me – a tired mama of four babies, praying a simple prayer of sanding for my rough edges. It’s not that I don’t need more juicy spiritual fruit in my life; I certainly do. My prayer was problematic because I assumed to know best, instead of asking God for his best.

It was a needed reminder that my own good intentions can lead me astray and profitable gifts can fail without the voice of the Father.

The depths of this thickening process are rich.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Six Years Old - Part I

This guy turned six, today!

Wowser.


I am so proud to be his everyday mom.


We are so much alike it's scary. Bossy and detailed; practical and focused.

I gave him the choice to go out for dinner or to have a night at home. He picked home (love that!). Ty selected a very balanced meal of Kraft Mac 'n Cheese, Chicken Caesar Salad, Pretzel Rolls, and Red Gatorade (I had to fight it down). Over the weekend we were at Costco and he saw a rainbow cake that he had to have. As I was telling him we didn't need a cake that feeds 50 and I would be happy to make one myself, Ben mouthed, "It's his birthday!" So...home we came with enough cake to feed an army.


Ty never hesitates in what he wants, which has been a wonderful leadership quality for his younger brothers who have walked challenging roads of insecurity. My favorite character trait is his heart of mercy.

Each boy, recently, started taking turns at the dinner table praying for one of the birth families represented in our family. Last night, Ty prayed that God would bless Missy's dad and help him make good choices for a good life. Ty recognizes how sad it must be not to get to see his daughter every day and, continuously lifts him in prayer.

When he watched the video Rebekah sent him, tonight, he asked me if she was sad that we couldn't all be together.


What a marvelous heart - so tender and sure.

Every day is (literally) my dream come true.