Chilly outside, Chili inside

It’s Texas. It’s February. Therefore the weather is extremely unpredictable. Last night was coooooold so I knew it was time for some chili. Now, I know that some people argue over the true definition of chili, but for the purpose of this post I’m going to go with what is good to me. Your mileage may vary.

First thing’s first: get yourself an Instant Pot. Here’s the one I have

I’m seriously in love with this contraption. My mother-in-law gave it to me for my birthday in 2016 and at first I wasn’t sure how I would use it. In fact, the first thing I made was pureed apples for my infant twins, and that was three months after getting it! But now… Oh yes, I do love my IP. But for today’s story, let’s focus on chili.

Ok so you’ve completed Step 1 (getting said IP)

Step 2: gather your ingredients. Since I have little ones and a picky husband, I went as basic as possible. Two cans of tomato sauce (store brand), one can of pinto beans (store brand), one packet of mild chili seasoning (store brand), and a pound of ground beef (90/10, store brand). Personally I like to sub one of the cans of tomato sauce for a can of stewed tomatoes, but my husband gives me major side-eye if he sees it in the shopping cart (which is why I prefer to shop alone!).

Step 3: dump the entire pack of ground beef into your Instant Pot and turn on the “Saute” setting. Careful now, it gets hot! I find that browning ground beef in the IP takes less time than it does in a traditional skillet on the stove. Maybe that’s just me. Make sure you turn off the Saute setting once your meat is cooked.

Step 4: after your meat is cooked all the way, add the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine.

Step 5: put your IP lid on and make sure the pressure valve is set to “closed.” Turn on “Manual” and set the time to 20 minutes. It take about 10-15 minutes for the IP to build pressure, then the time will start.

Step 6: when the time goes off you can either do a “quick release” of the pressure valve or let the pressure release naturally. I’ve done both for chili and don’t see a difference. Take the lid off and stir.

Step 7: Enjoy! My husband prefers to make Frito Pie while I’m perfectly content mixing my chili with rice.

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So there you have it, my Instant Pot chili. Feel free to mix yours up a bit!

 

 

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A Hard Goodbye

Christmas Eve my husband and I watched our beloved dog, Chloe, fall repeatedly as she tried to relieve herself outside. In that moment we knew we would have to put her to sleep in the coming weeks.  She had made it to 12 years of age and was beginning to rapidly decline. She would eat but kept losing weight.

After the Christmas festivities I asked my parents to watch the girls for a few days so Michael and I could spend as much time with Chloe as possible. I eventually called the vet and set our appointment for 12/30. The entirety of the 29th was spent snuggling our sweet girl and giving her all the foods she’d ever wanted but could never have. (Of course I gave her chocolate, what was the harm at this point?)

Her final morning came and Michael had to carry her into the vet’s office because she could barely walk. I had been a complete mess (and am starting to tear up again as I type this all out) yet somehow managed to tell the receptionist we were there. The vet explained the process (essentially animals are given an overdose of the anesthesia drugs) and asked if we wanted to be present (obviously we said yes). She gave Chloe a sedative and I laid on the floor with her. I watched as her eyes glazed over and cried as her breathing slowed. It wasn’t until the vet pronounced her gone that I finally let go of her paw.

We chose to have her privately cremated and should receive her ashes sometime in the next week. Ferris, our cat, has been extremely affectionate since realizing her beloved doggy isn’t coming home. She’s even let the girls pet her (and their definition of “petting” means smacking and hitting).

It’s been almost two weeks since Chloe has went to the Rainbow Bridge. The days are slowly getting better, although there are times when I think I can hear her scratching and I immediately start crying again. In a way I’m glad the girls are too young to understand. We’ve made the decision to wait on getting another dog until 1) Ferris has passed (she’s almost 12 and it would be cruel to bring a puppy into a geriatric cat’s home) and 2) when the girls start asking for one.

If you’ve never heard of the Rainbow Bridge, I highly recommend it, especially if you have young ones. And even if you don’t, it’s still a comforting piece.

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Chloe 10/1/2005-12/30/2017

 

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National Coming Out Day

Today is National Coming Out Day. If you have previously come out, then bravo. You are brave and I support you.

I debated whether or not to write anything about today. Sometimes I don’t feel as though I have any right. I’m not “officially” out, only out on Twitter. Bi or queer, however you want to label it, that’s me. So I guess this is me coming out.

One thing I’ve noticed is that bi people are often seen as unfaithful and/or gay/straight pretenders. I’ve been faithful to my husband since we started dating almost 17 years ago. And yes, I have a strong preference for men. But I also find women very attractive, especially when they have the brains and humor that I love. Does that mean I’m going to jump my best friend’s bones? Absolutely not. I love her as a sister.

I’m not an expert on the matter, I only know how I feel. How I perceive it all. And sometimes that makes me think that my feelings aren’t valid. That I have no right to feel or think the way I do.

So I honestly don’t know how to label myself: bi, queer, pan. I don’t even know if I deserve a label.

I tried telling my husband once how I felt. He said there’s no way I could be bi. So I left it alone. I felt alone. The only solace I found was those like me on Twitter. I know we’re taught not to talk to strangers, especially on the internet, but I’ve found some of the greatest people there. People like me.

You are loved. You are here. You matter.

When things suddenly change

What a crazy past few days…

The girls were at my parents this past weekend (they missed the girls while we were on vacation and Michael and I needed some serious rest). Saturday evening my mom calls saying Arlie was feeling poorly. I heard her coughing but assumed it was leftover sniffles from the allergies we all had over vacation (kinda rough going from a humid climate to a dry one).

Mom calls late Sunday morning saying Arlie was having difficulty breathing and was wheezing. The ladies at church were all worried about her, Mom was worried, my cousin was worried. Of course I couldn’t do anything from two hours away so I snapped at my mom (SORRY AGAIN, I LOVE YOU) that she was fine.

The girls come back to us Sunday evening. I can now see the breathing problems everyone was talking about. Fast, shallow breathing with intermittent wheezing. I still didn’t think it was bad. She wasn’t eating with her normal gusto (and this is the twin that cries if she sees you eating without sharing), but I still didn’t get too concerned. Tried giving her a bottle before bed and she threw up the contents plus the Tylenol we’d given her (it was like a liquid candy cane spewed on my pants). I started to worry a bit, but still not too much. Put her down to sleep and her breathing was so fast compared to Zoey’s.

Monday morning my alarm goes off and I realize I hadn’t heard a peep all night. I rush into the nursery expecting to find my child cold and not breathing, but she was fine. I go to work as usual but keep texting my mom for regular updates. Eventually I decide to email the pediatrician, if for nothing than to put everyone’s mind at ease. The girls have their 1-year well check on Friday but I assumed Arlie could wait til then. Nope. The pediatrician wanted to see her ASAP.

So we leave work early, go home and grab Arlie, and somehow make it to the pediatrician in less than 45 minutes. The ped said she heard some wheezing in Arlie’s lungs, but didn’t think it was asthma. She had a breathing treatment and after 15 minutes was doing so much better. The doctor thinks it was a virus that she might’ve picked up on vacation. She wrote us a prescription for a nebulizer and Albuterol.

I go to the pharmacy to pick everything up and was surprised at the low cost. Well it turns out that the prescription was just for the Albuterol. Turns out I needed a second prescription for the actual machine. The pharmacist tells me he’ll contact my pediatrician and call me later to let me know what he finds out.

I finally talk to the pharmacist at 6 last night. He got the prescription but their manufacturer is out of nebulizers (OF COURSE THEY ARE). He told me to go to any of his competitors and he would transfer the prescription (as he said “I don’t care about losing business, I only care about the health of your child”). So this afternoon will be spent tracking down which of the other pharmacies in town have nebulizers in stock.

The good news is that the neb treatment at the pediatrician really broke up a lot of the stuff that had been harboring in Arlie’s chest. She was in such a better mood last night and ate ALL THE FOOD. The night was a little rough though, since she spent most of our sleeping hours coughing up phlegm. At least she was getting it out, even if it was at the cost of sleep.

When a vacation isn’t a vacation…

I’m currently on my first vacation as a parent. My in laws wanted a huge family trip so they brought my husband and his sister (as well as respective spouses), our two girls, and my sister in law’s three boys to California. The first few days were spent visiting family and this afternoon we arrived at Disneyland (with tomorrow being our first day in the park). 

You know Murphy’s Law? Well this trip has been Murphy’s List. To name a few: Michael’s glasses broke before we even got on the plane, Hertz gave away our reserved vehicles, our first hotel gave away 1 of our 3 reserved cribs… The latest was today: Twin One had a blowout as we arrived at the hotel but the concierge had already taken our luggage and our rooms weren’t ready yet. So poor girl spent the afternoon in Downtown Disney with no pants. Oh and both girls, one of my twin nephews, AND the husband are all sick. 

I need a vacation from my vacation.