confinement and chili

Chances are, our story is not dissimilar to your own.

Over the course of a single weekend in March, our lives were turned upside down.

It began on a Friday when I spent the day trying to get clients out of Argentina before the borders closed on them. That’s when we knew things were serious.

By Monday, Lilia was officially out of school and our confinement as a family began.

There’s not much that can prepare you for such a shock. We won’t lie: we cried a lot.

Surface level, we cried for the unrealistic expectations of being both full-time employees  and full-time parents to a very hands-on toddler. For my company and the thought that I might not have a job for too much longer. For our inability to hug and hang out with my brother Alex who lives just 10 minutes from us. For all of the canceled friend and family visits, of which there were many.

Deeper, we worried when Lilia began to regress due to, what we assume, was a response to our stress and her new normal. When she kept asking about her friends and when she would get to see them. When she continued to bring up Uncle Alex in everyday conversation. When she stopped napping and kept screaming in the middle of the night. When she she started peeing in her pants again.

More deeply, my selfish nature could not reconcile the fact that I was being asked to shoulder these burdens while my physical and emotional strength deteriorated. That Jason could no longer come to my OB appointments. That I might have to deliver our second child without him [a very real fear for a couple of weeks]. That I would be traveling through the excruciatingly difficult final month of pregnancy and first months of newborn life seemingly alone, in quarantine.

This rollercoaster of emotions plagued us for several never-ending weeks as we absorbed the impact of this pandemic on our lives. It seemed every time we were able to come to terms with things, a new curve ball flew our way.

It was a very “Woe is me” existence, and it was overwhelming.

But eventually our perspective shifted. Call it a result of Lent and the product of Easter, or a limiting of our news intake, or a take-away from an unbelievably poignant and relevant book [The Book of JoyREAD IT.], or pure exhaustion from living a life of 24/7 worry.

We began to see the silver linings: We still had jobs. All three of us were healthy at the same time [a first since Lilia started school]. We had an amazing home and were surrounded by green space to escape to if need be. We had the rare opportunity to spend six whole weeks with Lilia as an only child before she became a big sister. We had something to actually look forward to amidst this mess. We were living proof that there were bigger, more important things in this world beyond the virus.

Sure, I still cry a lot. [Pregnancy hormones are REAL, after all.] I cry knowing that our baby will be born into such extraordinary circumstances… that he probably won’t meet his grandparents for several months after his arrival… that he could very well be taken away from me if I unexpectedly contract this disease… that his birth story will be one full of fear.

But the reality is that so many have it worse. Many are suffering for reasons we cannot even begin to comprehend. Many are fighting this thing head on and sacrificing so much in order to do so. Many are dying.

It doesn’t make our mourning any less real, but it does remind us that we can survive this, and we can all find hope in our current circumstances.

I actually began writing this post on Divine Mercy Sunday, the day when doubting Thomas reminds us to have faith even when we feel blind. And boy, do we feel blind right now.

The good news is that while we may not always be able to see God in the pandemonium of the unknown, that doesn’t mean we don’t have a reason to rejoice.

It may feel near impossible to rejoice in anything right now. But this baby — our second child — is worth rejoicing.

We rejoice in the hope that he represents amidst tragedy. We rejoice in our ability to be together as a family without distractions for the next several months. We rejoice in our new, new normal about to take shape, whether that’s in confinement or finally surrounded by family and friends.


Jason’s Signature Chili

We’ve had a few bouts of annoying snowfalls during quarantine, but Jason’s signature chili has proved to be such a source of comfort. It’s deceivingly chock-full of vegetables and has an unbelievable flavor. Sure, you could add beans if you want them, but you’ll most certainly offend the Texas blood running through his veins. As someone who only knew chili with beans before him, I promise I have never missed them since. We recently made a double batch so we could enjoy half for lunches and the other half when baby arrives!

chili2

Ingredients
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 large carrots, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs paprika
  • 1 Tbs cumin
  • 1 Tbs oregano
  • 1 Tbs curry powder
  • 1 Tbs cocoa powder
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Chili powder or fresh ground dried chiles per your spice preferences. [We like guajillo and ancho mixes, but anything works. Tip: remove some seeds before grinding.]
  • 1/2 c. corn meal
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 2 quarts stock or 2 quarts water with 2 heaping Tbs. boullion
Instructions
1. Chop vegetables.
2. In a large stock pot, sauté over medium heat until they’re nice and soft.
3. Blend vegetables together. You can do this by either placing them in a food processor or adding some stock and using a stick blender until they’re pulverized.
4. Meanwhile, cook the meat in a little bit of water. [This helps prevent large chunks from forming.] Keep adding water to the pan until all the meat is apart. Let water evaporate and brown meat.
4. Combine all of the ingredients together. Add enough stock to cover everything, about 2 quarts.
5. Cook for at least three hours — covered for half and uncovered for the other half — until flavors are melded and chili is reduced to a nice, thick consistency. Stir occasionally. It should look like chili (not soup) at the end. Adjust spices as needed.
6. Serve with shredded cheese and chips. Or as sloppy joe’s.
A note on heat: If it turned out a bit too spicy, don’t worry. The heat tends to calm down after overnight refrigeration. Alternatively, there is always sour cream and cheese to help cut it!

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