Sunday, April 26, 2015

Open Adoption

For reasons on both sides, it has been two years since we've seen Ty's birth mom, Rebekah. She has as many littles at home as we do and that just makes cross-country travel difficult.

As much as I wish we lived closer, every time we do get together our time is treasured and memorable for all of us. Ty and I are making the trip by ourselves, for the first time, in a few days.

The past 15 months of foster care taught me more things that I wanted to learn, but one truth that surfaced often is the tremendous sacrifice that Rebekah made for her son. I have always known it and given it a place of honor in my heart, but watching the level of arrogance and self-interest that Little Miss' parents possess, in and out of the courtroom, gave me the deepest appreciation for the decision Rebekah made.

Cisco and Missy's parents care, but only in a biological "they-should-be-with-me" kind of way. I realize, now, that the instinct of a mother - fierce protector - is not innate in every woman.

I will never forget the day Rebekah called me a few years ago. She was in the car with her kids and looked in the rear view mirror with a complete sense of overwhelm. It was one of those days. She, immediately, breathed a prayer of thanks to God that Ty was not dependent on her everyday care...that God had provided a family to love and support him. She called to thank me for worrying for him, so that she didn't have to.

I, honestly, cannot comprehend the depths of that love and Ty has only scratched the surface. He is so excited for our trip and can't wait to be in his hometown with his first family. It will be a beautiful reunion!

I will post pictures and notes on my Facebook page, throughout our weekend, and look forward to coming back, here, to share our moments. If you have a question that you would like to ask me, Tyrus, or Rebekah, please leave it in the comments or on my FB page. The three of us will spend some time recording our answers.

Open adoption is such a gift.

Friday, April 24, 2015

FF: Quinoa Surprise

This week's recipe is a Ben invention and family favorite - Quinoa Surprise! The "surprise" is that it never looks 100% the same. A couple of weeks ago, we were out of quinoa and the boys thought it was hysterical that we were just eating "Surprise!" for dinner.

This one is super easy. 30 minutes tops.

First, grab the cutest sous-chefs you can find. We're in jammies because our evenings are on a tight itinerary with a seven o'clock bedtime. Baths and jammies come before dinner in these parts!

The ingredients are simple. Mix together: 
1 lb cooked beef
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 drained can of black beans
1/2 bag of frozen corn
Taco Seasoning (we make our own with this recipe)
If I am feeling really ambitious, I'll cut up onion and peppers and throw them in, too.

Now. The most important part of Quinoa Surprise is the topping.

We add hand-shredded sharp cheddar, cilantro, and chipotle ranch (just mix a few good swigs of chipotle sauce with your favorite ranch dressing). Some of us eat our taco pile with corn chips, while others roll it up in a burrito.

It doesn't look like much...but man do we LOVE it! Each kid, including sister, eats 2-3 helpings. There are never any leftovers!

Stroke Ben's ego if you try it and love it as much as we do.

We like to serve it with a side of cornbread and refried beans.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Team Pinchback

I didn't sleep but a wink. It wasn't just excitement; it was the remembering of all the moments that led us to this place - mine and his.

I spent years praying for babies that wouldn't come and a solid six months living under a suffocating cloud of defeat. It is the only time in my life that I let the pain win and allowed hope to walk out the door. I thank God for the people who didn't give up. The people who continued to pray and shoulder the burden when I couldn't.

I wouldn't go back to tell myself anything. The sharpened character that emerged from that fire is  a treasure that cannot be priced. God redeems. The enemy was successful in stealing my joy and purposeful in his pursuit, but he is no match for God's love or creativity.

I jumped out of bed without an alarm and, excitedly, rushed downstairs to get the boys up. LJ, uncharacteristically, popped out of bed and said, "Today is the big day!" As Sweet Boy climbed down his ladder and, sleepily, sat on my lap, the first tears flooded my eyes. God would have answered all of my prayers with one adoption. He would have satisfied my gut cry with one gift. Yet, my lap was heavy with my third.

More than me, this day was about him.

As we approached the courthouse, he looked up and said, "Mom, we've been here before, remember?" Yes. The past 15 months were booked solid with ridiculous red tape and multiple DNA tests.

For the first three months Sweet Boy lived with us, he held a bucket on his lap in the car because every other trip resulted in anxiety induced throw-up. He could barely speak without stutter and nearly every conversation was overtaken by tears. He didn't love; he didn't care. He was so fearful of not meeting our expectations that he self-disciplined and hit himself into submission. His story is so pervaded with neglect, I am astounded that he survived.

When it came to Sweet Boy's dark corner of the world, the enemy was near successful in destroying his life, but he is no match to God's power.

God redeems; he makes a home for the lonely (Psalm 98:6).

I had "Team Pinchback" tees made for our special day and my mom bought each of the boys a team hat with their individual adoption days inscribed on the side (Little Miss has a set waiting for her). Sweet Boy wasn't given his uniform until the official judgement, making that moment even more special!

Before the ceremony started, I stole a few minutes to tell my baby how proud I was to be his mom.

(Seriously cute - those dimples melt my heart!)

I may not have carried these babies in my belly, but my heart doesn't know the difference. I will never forget each moment the judge declared it in the best interest for them to forever be under my care.

Twenty-three people came alongside our family to cheer on our newly drafted member. What a gift each of them are and special thanks to my sweet friend, Casey, for helping us remember the day with pictures!

It is with so much joy that I introduce you to the sweetest boy I've ever met, our third born son - Francisco Jonathan Pinchback.

His new middle name honors the greatest spiritual influencer of our life and is profoundly appropriate as it means "Yahweh has Given".

God has entrusted this precious boy to our family and we will do our best to honor Him with our lives.

Friday, April 10, 2015

FF: Jalapeno Popper Chicken

Here it is! The first recipe that earned all stars from all four boys!

It's a slight cheat because this is actually a family favorite...but after Ben's submarine rating, again, last week, I asked him what I had to do to earn a full 10. He told me I had to make this.

So, here it is!

You'll look like you spent hours in the kitchen, but you and I will both know the truth.

Jalepeno Popper Chicken

We've been making this Cassie Craves recipe for a few years, now. Here are my tips. Make the bacon beforehand to speed up the process. I, usually, always have bacon cut up and on hand because we have salad with dinner a lot and who doesn't want bacon on their salad!?!

I mix Italian seasoned bread crumbs and Panko together for the crust and just pan fry the chicken over medium heat for 4-5 minutes on each side and then pop the chicken in a 350 oven for about 20 minutes.

As long as you dump the seeds, the jalapeno is not too spicy. All the kids ate it inside the chicken, even the baby, without complaint.

This week, we paired our chicken with orange slices, salad, and biscuits.

You will NOT be disappointed!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Much More

The boys received a request for a play date the other day and it gave me a good laugh. Setting up such events never occurs to me because we are a play date. 10% of the kindergarten class lives in our house and they are the best of buddies.

Sweet Boy is doing so well. These pictures were taken at our favorite park, this weekend. Last year, he spent the first several trips sitting by me, unmoving, on the bench.

He was numb - too anxious to care - too troubled to try.

Now, I watch him run to the top and race down the slides. Sometimes he is too quick and skids down the rock wall, only to pick himself up and try it, again. Anyone watching would move on from the scene. He looks like every other boy...but I know the truth.

He is much more.

Our adoption finalization hearing is next Friday and it overwhelms my heart to think about handing this boy forever. We've known it from the start and he knows it, now, but hearing the judge say the words will open a new chapter to his story.

We will never erase the scars, but we will exchange his case number for a last name. The people that come into his life will stay. The home he grows in will be safe. The family that loves him will point to destiny.

In moments of such rich reward, I look back and thank God for every piece of the passage. The days of defeat, tears of frustration, and broken calls to heaven, sure up this victory in a way that blots the past and prompts me to ask, Lord, what now...or perhaps who?

It only takes but one breath of rest for our souls to surge to order, pick up the fight, and carry on.

Friday, April 3, 2015

FF: Roasted Chicken & Tex-Mex Potato Wedges

This week's Food Friday recipes are not new to our family, but rather staples that we've been making for some time. However, after eating the roasted chicken for the upteenth time, this week, I knew I had to share it with you!

Crispy Roasted Chicken
This chicken does take 90 minutes in the oven, but it's so easy, I don't even need the recipe anymore to make it! You will, likely, need the recipe the first time you make it, so head over to The Salty Kitchen.

Roast whole chicken in the oven 1.5 hours on 459

This week, I paired the chicken with these must-make Tex-Mex Potato Wedges! You can find the Potato Wedge recipe on the 3 Boys Unprocessed blog.

The chicken and wedges are pretty hearty, so I just, quickly, sauteed some broccoli and we called it a meal.

Ty chose to be hungry, but the rest of enjoyed it, thoroughly!