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


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!


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.

Friday, June 5, 2015

FF: Crescent Bacon Breakfast Ring

I don't know about your house, but we LOVE breakfast for dinner!

This Crescent Bacon Breakfast Ring from Jo Cooks is a yummy omelette spin off that got gobbled up by everyone except Ty. He likes his eggs straight up.

Crescent Bacon Breakfast Ring 

And it only takes 35 minutes from prep to table - my kind of meal! I did it up right and served it with OJ, a tater-tot type hash (we like this kind), a fresh fruit medley, and our favorite lumpy links of sausage (we always have a stash of these in our freezer - we buy them from Costco).

It's almost as easy as ordering pizza.


Friday, May 29, 2015

FF: Chipotle Honey BBQ Chicken & Roasted Smashed Potatoes

This week's recipe does not fit my "one hour" rule, but it's so finger-looking good, you will forgive me! I had sick babies, yesterday, so it was the perfect day to carve some time out for sauce making.

I made the World's Best Lasagna sauce and built a lasagna for tonight at the same time I made the Chipotle Honey Barbecue sauce for last night's dinner. They both need to simmer for 60-90 minutes, but the prep time is minimal.

Chipotle Honey BBQ Chicken -  Fabulously sweet and perfectly spicy this chicken is great any night of the week!  | |  #chicken

My boys will eat anything in the form of a drumstick, so this was family-friendly, even though they tend to balk at anything charred. I only used 1 chipotle pepper (I did wash the seeds out), so the  sauce was mild. Since I was in prep mode and I hate waste, I also cut open and washed the seeds out of the remaining chipotle peppers and pureed them with the jarred sauce and measured 1 tsp servings into an ice cube tray to freeze for future meals. I have chipotle chicken faijitas planned next week.

I made a dozen drumsticks and probably have enough sauce for two more meals! All that to say, the prep is WORTH it!

I think Team Pinchback would have settled for a plate full of chicken, but I paired it with corn on the cob, applesauce, and these delicious Crispy Smashed Roasted Potatoes from Mom on Timeout.

Crispy Smashed Roasted Potatoes Recipe

It took a little extra time, but we also have a lasagna ready to pop into the oven tonight and enough homemade grilling sauce for a relaxing weekend!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

"Please don't give up on me."

"I feel like the boy who cried matter how bad I want this, it's too late. I know that."

I vacillated between compassion and irritation listening to Missy's biological dad plead his case before the judge.

Today's termination trial spanned six hours. SIX. My back was stiff; my patience thin.

The facts are stacking. He only visited his daughter six times in twenty months; he hadn't completed any of the goals in his parenting plan; he spends more time in jail than outside, and he admitted to having a very serious drug problem.

The judge was kind, but firm, and found the burden of proof met. He terminated rights.

Early on, this morning, Little Missy's dad vocalized his desire to voluntarily sign over his rights. He asked many questions, but the one that mattered most to him was that Ben would continue to be her father. Ben took her to three of the six visits and although it was for purposes of scheduling, today, I am so thankful for our decision. In some small way, I think, it eased the tearing in his heart to know that the man his daughter will grow-up calling "daddy", always showed him kindness and respect.

I hate the political bologna that plays out every time I'm in that courtroom, but I couldn't be mad at dad for changing his mind and requesting a trial. It was his last chance to fight for her.

I was able to look past his excuses for walking away and saw the honesty in his heart. Though his experiences with Little Miss were limited, he remembered every one, highlighting the first time they met and her first neck grabbing hug.

His plea to the judge came from such a place of brokenness, his words have haunted me the rest of the day - "I hope this is the time that someone or something will give me another chance. Please don't give up on me."

Even though this judge drug both cases a full year past our expectations, I am thankful for his leadership and respect his character. He responded to Missy's dad, gently, saying, "You turned your back on the resources we offered. You can't and haven't been able to help yourself and because of that, you will not be able to help or care for your daughter. I have to act in her best interest."

Dad cried softly and took his defeat with humility.

I tried to make eye contact with him as he was escorted out of the courtroom by police officers, but he never looked up.

I will, likely, never see him again.

As soon as I picked up the boys, they wanted to know what happened in court. I gave them a edited version of the day and challenged them to pray for Little Miss' dad, as the burden in his heart could be too much for him to bear.

The outcome of today puts us one step closer to adoption, but there is no victory in witnessing such devastation. This is the fourth time we've walked this path, but it never feels right or natural; I don't think it ever will.

Please draw this sweet man to you. Cloak him in your presence and protect his frailty. Bring him a mentor that will shoulder his deficiencies and guide him to wholeness - someone who will persist and cheer and point him toward love at every turn. I have seen glimpses of his heart for his daughter...give him the same glimpses of your heart for him. Anchor his hope.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Day will Bring it to Light

Cisco's therapist came over, this week, to say goodbye. She joyfully graduated him from therapy right before his adoption hearing. As I walked her out, Cisco ran ahead to join his team in the outfield as Ben pitched a home run to LJ - another plus to having a house full of boys the same age.

As I thanked her for all she had done for our family and affirmed her role in God's healing of Cisco's heart, she teared up and said, "What you guys are doing here is really something." I tried to wave her comment away, but she stopped me, "No. Really. Most of the homes I visit don't look like this [she gestured toward the lively baseball game] and most of the kids I see don't have outcomes as positive as Cisco's."

She was a complete godsend to our family. Watching her leave was an emotional rite of passage.

I took this picture, last year February, the first week Cisco and Missy came to live with us.

I've probably looked at it a dozen times since that day, but the uncertainty balled up in those sweet fists and the self-doubt weighing on Cisco's shoulders brings me to tears every time.

What a distinction to see him sitting next to two confident, assured brothers.

With a lot of love and even more tears, he overcame every obstacle he faced, this year. I am wowed by his quiet, fighting spirit.

We met with his teacher, last week, and made the difficult decision to have him repeat kindergarten. I am certain every parent wrestles with such discussions, but the closeness in age between the boys, made it extra tough (Ty is 2 months/1 week older than LJ and LJ is 2 months/2 weeks older than Cisco).

The amount of progress that Cisco made this year is remarkable and could have justified pushing him through to first grade. But here's the truth. While Ty and LJ soaked in the learning opportunities of their first year of preschool, Cisco was found in a condemned motel room, half-starved.

When Ty and LJ raced to the door on their first day of their second year of preschool, Cisco stood in the doorway of his second home and met his foster family for the first time.

Three months into kindergarten, Ty and LJ knew the names of every student in our small community school, while Cisco stood behind his brothers, too nervous to speak through his new stutter and too wounded to risk investing in friends that he might have to say goodbye to...for the third time.

It wasn't just the newness of school that overwhelmed his bright mind, it was the newness of every area of his life. New school, new home, new siblings, new parents, and (of course) new sets of rules all around. It's really no wonder his body was taken by anxiety.

Our little guy had to work, tirelessly, this year to achieve what most of the students in his class take for granted every day. He didn't just fight for academics. He fought for friendships, normalcy, trust, and routine. And because he ended kindergarten a squeak above "average", he would start first grade running faster than the others, continuing his fight to close the gap.

We didn't want that for him.

We want Cisco to rest in the guarantee of a tomorrow that looks just like today.

Last summer was such a kaleidoscope of change and emotion, I'm really looking forward to this summer. There is a great level of peace that comes with knowing your children, inside and out. I am thankful that we've finally reached that place.

When I tuck Cisco in at night and receive genuine hugs and right-on-the-lips kisses, I know his heart is whole.

Over the weekend, I was washing bedding and suggested that each boy take inventory of their stuffed animal collection (each one rivaling that of a zoo) to determine if it was time for a few goodbyes. I told them to make a little pile by the door of animals that they would like the agency to give to other boys and girls coming into foster care.

Ty and LJ produced zero stuffies between the two of them, yet my Cisco came with an armful of lovies and said, "Mom, I brought all of these animals from my middle home, but I don't need them anymore. Let's give them to another kid that has to have a middle home."

Punch to the heart.

That's my boy. He has the sweetest spirit I've ever met.

I was reading in I Corinthians, recently, and this line really struck a chord with me (3:13): "...the Day will bring it to light." That has never stood out to me before, but I like this new-to-me name of God.

The Day.

With love, he wakens his people and brings light to the darkness, cleans out the cobwebs, and fills hearts with song.

It's one thing to experience it myself, but entirely another to watch the revolution in others. Watching this boy's life sing is one of the greatest rewards on earth.