Yo soy La Lay

adventures in family, faith, and Down syndrome

Presenting: A Recipe for Fall

Rainy Fall Night Chili

1 pack sweet Italian turkey sausage

1 lb. lean ground beef (I use 90/10)

1 purple onion, chopped

2-ish stalks of celery, chopped

A lot of garlic (as much as you think is good and then double it)

1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

1 16 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes

1 can light kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 packet low-sodium chili seasoning

Pepper, to taste

1-2 tablespoons paprika

1-2 tablespoons Adobo seasoning (can be found in pretty much any grocery store, even Aldi)

Barbecue sauce (I dunno, maybe a quarter cup??)

Push sauté on the Instant Pot and throw in the meat. Cook until it’s pretty much brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and throw in the chopped onion, celery, and garlic. Once the veggies are soft, add all the spices and stir it up so it looks thick and delicious. Stir in the meat, tomatoes, beans, and barbecue sauce. Cook on high pressure for 25 minutes, then quick release.

If you don’t have an Instant Pot, well, you’re missing out. You can probably make this in a crock pot or on the stove top with much more effort, but seriously, jump on the IP bandwagon.

And yes, that’s InSTANT pot, not InSTApot. Please and thanks.

Serve with your favorite toppings, crusty bread, good wine, and a classic movie.

Welcome, Fall. ❤️

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Take What You Need

At an absurdly early hour on Friday morning, I woke up in my hotel room in Phoenix with nothing to do, nowhere to be, and no one calling my name for help. It was not an acceptable time to start texting my fellow Rockin’ moms, nor was I quite awake enough to be social anyway.

The freedom in this moment was just slightly overwhelming, but came with such a tremendous sense of relief that I legitimately held a silent, 30-second dance party in the hotel bathroom. I pulled on my swimsuit, grabbed a water bottle, and ran out to find a shady spot by the pool. Whatever the day would bring, I was ready to embrace it.

What I have come to love the most about the DSDN Rockin’ Mom Retreat each year is the ability to take what I need for me in each moment. Now with my third retreat under my belt, I have a keen understanding of what my soul needs in order to walk away feeling wholly recharged – and the confidence to spend three days selfishly meeting those needs.

I choose the word selfishly intentionally here, because of the fabulous Brian Donovan and his pep talk for all of us on Saturday afternoon. When we talked about how hard it can be for us as moms to advocate for our own needs – to say to my family that you all need to just survive without me for a few days and by the way I’m taking a big ol’ chunk of the family budget just for me this month so good luck – it struck a cord with me. It is really freaking hard!!!! But, it’s either not selfish at all to do this, or selfish in the kind of heart-filling, love-growing, sanity-keeping way that is undeniably acceptable for all humans.

I want to reiterate that it took me three years to find my bearings in this experience. Three years to find the right balance of social and silence for my heart. Three years to recognize that it’s totally cool to lounge through breakfast or skip the bar for a bath and bed. Three years to find my niche, to develop my relationships with the mommas to whom I want to run and give a big bear hug when they walk into the room.

Three years to establish my tribe within the tribe.

Being in the room with 400 women who walk a similar journey is powerful. It’s complex, each of us bringing our own set of experiences and beliefs to the table, and at the Rockin’ Mom Retreat, there is room for all of us. So you go, party momma, Uber-ing back to the hotel at 3 AM. You rock, laid back momma, skipping all the scheduled events just to lounge by the pool. We’ve got you, new momma who doesn’t love Down syndrome and can’t figure out how she fits into this crazy room full of unicorn-obsessed wild ladies who all seem to know each other really well. You do you, first-timer who doesn’t want to miss a single experience on the agenda. This weekend is for you and if you listen to your heart, you will rock it.

Until Nashville, Mommas….. ⭐️⭐️⭐️