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.