Saturday, February 28, 2015

Dear Mason–A Reflection on One Month

Dear Mason,

Happy One Month Birthday my little Milky Bear!

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Your Daddy and I can hardly believe it’s been a month. In some ways, it feels like it’s been one long sleepless night, but mostly it feels like you’ve been a part of our lives forever. You are this amazing miracle we had locked inside of each other – I’m so so happy that you are here.

For such a little guy, you’ve accomplished quite a lot in only a month!

First, you were born! Some may not realize it, but you and I both know what hard work that was.

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Shortly after, you had your first taste of breastmilk, and it’s safe to say that you are hooked. Which has brought more changes for you because you are a growing boy! You regained your birth weight in less than 5 days. Mommy was finally happy that her colostrum came in months before you were born.

And you have outgrown all your Newborn Clothes and all your 0-3 month clothes. It’s a tiny bit sad because that means that you have outgrown your favorite outfits!

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You are officially in 3 month PJ’s….which is pretty much all you ever wear. For Mommy and Daddy, anytime of day could be time to sleep, and you sleep a lot!

Favorite places to sleep: on Mommy, on Daddy, and in your swing.

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Yep, PJ’s are the best. Plus your PJ’s have zippers – zippers are key for quick diaper changes which makes you pretty happy. You don’t love to have your diaper changed.

You’re not a big fan of tummy time either. Let’s not even discuss it.

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It makes you super grumpy….moving on.

You do love to take a bath. Just two days ago we gave you a bath and you coo’ed while in the tub. It was adorable. You love having your hair washed – what little wisps you have.

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We always make sure the towel is warm and waiting for you after the bath and you love it. You are always so calm and relaxed after your bath.

You also love to stare at your wall of books. This is a new development just in your third week. It’s pretty adorable. When you are feeling fussy about being stuck in one spot, I scoop you up and take you to your book wall. Works like a charm.

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Another charm, your Daddy. You love your Daddy so much – we call him the Baby Whisperer. Sometimes you cry when you’re over-tired (It’s tough being a baby!) and all he has to do is talk to you to calm you down.

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Oh yes Mason Modesto, you have us wrapped around your tiny fingers.

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Your fur brother and fur sister are adjusting well to having you at home. Max stops to sniff you a dozen times a day,

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and Hazel loves your burp cloths.

You are our favorite person in the whole world. We love hanging out with you and telling you stories. You are spending more and more time wide awake during the day -

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We can’t wait until you can smile and laugh with us. For now, you’re content to look us in the eyes, kick and punch your hands and feet, and hug anything I put in your hands.

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You have a crazy strong grip.

A few days ago, we took you outside to play in your first big snow! We had a little over 6 inches of fresh snow fall…

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But…you slept the entire time snuggled up inside my jacket.

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My favorite time of day with you is your early morning feeding around 6am. You drink your milk quickly, and then you fall fast asleep on my chest.

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It’s such a sweet special time, I am so blessed to be your Mommy.

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We love you Mason – more and more every day. Happy One Month to our sweet, strong, smart, special boy.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Super Easy Crock Pot Chicken Carnitas

I’ve always been a HUGE fan of Crock Pot meals.

I love the ease in throwing a bunch of ingredients in a slow cooker, giving it a stir, and then setting it and forgetting it. So simple!

But I have to say, now that I’m a Mommy – particularly to a 3 week old who likes to remind me who’s the boss…

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He’s the boss y’all –

I have a brand new appreciation for my Slow Cooker! No more scrambling to get supper ready before the baby timer goes off again (That’s what I call his teeny tiny tummy).

Now supper is ready whenever I am ready, which could be 5pm or 9:30pm, depending on the day.

But do you know what’s even better than a Crock Pot meal? Crock Pot TACOS! Chicken Carnitas to be exact.

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Parrish and I couldn’t believe how flavorful the Chicken Carnitas turned out. I am already planning a batch of Nachos with this recipe. Last night we went with crispy shells, Cabot Plain Greek Yogurt, Extra Sharp Cheddar, Red Onion, Cilantro, and Lime Juice. It was easy and so delicious.

And next time I am totally making a double batch. It will be a glorious week of tacos, nachos, quesadillas, and enchiladas. Yep – that’s how delicious this chicken is!

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Crock Pot Chicken Carnitas - gluten free

adapted from Closet Cooking; Inspired by According to Elle

You’ll need:

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1 1/2 lbs to 2 lbs.)

1 cup orange juice

5 cloves garlic, smashed

2 limes, juiced (plus extra limes for topping)

1 tbsp. chili powder

1 1/4 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. oregano

pinch salt, pinch pepper

Toppings: Red Onion, Cilantro, Limes, Avocado, etc. You choose!

Place all the ingredients in your slow cooker (minus your taco toppings) and set to low for 6-8 hours. You want the chicken to be fully cooked and tender – luckily the juices keep the chicken moist, so you don’t have to worry about overcooking!

Once cooked, shred the chicken and spread it in an even single layer on a baking sheet. Broil for 5 minutes, or until the chicken has crisped on the edges. Once out of the oven, squeeze the juice of one lime over the chicken.

Enjoy!

Monday, February 23, 2015

My Winter Weather Necessities

Happy Monday friends!

I’m afraid to say that we have a case of the Mondays here in the Ravelli house.

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The weather in Durham is just plain yucky, and we didn’t get quite enough beauty sleep last night. So that means extra milk for Mason Modesto and naps for everyone. 

But while I’m enjoying my salad for lunch (can I say how EXCITED I am to NOT be pregnant and have my appetite for salads back!?!?!) I thought I would share a few Winter Weather necessities that I’ve been loving lately.

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Oh my lord – these bars. THESE BARS! I love them. I love them so so much! They’re sweet for sure but oh so good. I keep my breastfeeding station stocked and I always have a few in my purse.

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Fresh fruit! Parrish and I have been loving fresh fruit this month. We were lucky enough to have several friends and family members bring us fruit, and then Parrish stocked the fridge again yesterday. He even rinsed it all and assembled quick grab-and-go jars. Best Husband Ever!

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Chocolate. ‘Nuff Said.

lemon garlic vinaigrette

Super easy Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette.

I love this dressing! It’s crazy easy to throw together. Just put all the ingredients listed above in a small ball jar and shake! So yummy on salads. Plus, when you use most of it but still have leftover minced garlic in the bottom of the jar, you can add more olive oil and lemon juice instead of starting from scratch.

What about you? What are your Winter Weather necessities?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

10 Minute Gluten Free Chicken Florentine

Happy Wednesday friends!

Truth: I had to look at my calendar to see what day of the week it is.

AND Truth: I started this post at 9am and am hitting publish in the afternoon. Eeesh, baby time trap!

Parrish, Mason, and I are having a FABULOUS morning day! Our little Milky Bear slept for a 4 hour stretch last night and I’m telling you – I feel AMAZING.

In fact, that extra sleep came just in time, because look what I found in our silverware drawer this morning:

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Apparently we keep butter with our measuring spoons now! Bahahahahaha

Luckily (Unluckily?!) it’s an icy mess here in Durham, so we’ve at least been confined to our home while sleep deprived!

Parrish returned to work last week and so Mason and I went on an adventure to pick up a few quick meal necessities. We’ve had tons of sweet family and friends provide us with big meals, but I needed smaller servings of food that I can microwave for myself throughout the day. (And possibly re-heat again if I don’t get to eat it all) Breastfeeding hunger is real!

So I timed feedings and naps the best I could and wrapped Mason up and headed in to Target.

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He slept the ENTIRE time. He didn’t even wake up when I squealed at the new Udi’s Gluten Free display!

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There were so many items that I hadn’t seen before – it was hard not to buy them all! However, the price tags kept me from over doing it. Since most of the larger items were between $8.49 and $9.99, I decided to just try one. There’s nothing worse than buying a new gluten free product and then hating it!

I almost bought Chicken Alfredo because I LOVE Alfredo, but I can easily make that dish at home using Classico sauce. So I decided on the Chicken Florentine, since it was something that I had never made.

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The bag boasts that it serves 2 but you would need a salad on the side if you wanted to make this a full meal. For me, this bag served one breastfeeding mama perfectly!

It was SUPER EASY to make. Skillet for 10 minutes with a lid, stirring occasionally.

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The sauce starts out looking like tiny pats of butter and it melts slowly to cover the pasta.

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I was impressed with the quality of the chicken. There were no bad bits and it ended up pretty moist in the sauce.

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The tomatoes were a bit scarce but I didn’t mind, and the spinach seemed to be good quality.

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Plus the pasta noodles were great!

Overall, I would totally buy this again to have in a pinch but the price is a bit high for me to see it as a freezer staple.

Have you tried any of the Udi’s bagged meals?

I also snagged the Sweet Potato Ravioli for one – I can’t wait to try it!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Getting Glutened in the Hospital

True or False: You can trust a hospital to safely feed you a gluten free meal.

For me, TOTALLY FALSE! And honestly, completely unbelievable.

While staying at Duke Regional Hospital to deliver Mason Modesto…

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I was SHOCKED by the “gluten free” options that were brought to me.

I hadn’t eaten a meal since Thursday night. Friday morning I had one gluten free cracker and that was it. So by the time I was moved in to my post delivery room around 7am on Saturday, nearly 32 hours since my last meal, I was STARVING.

The first thing brought to me:

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Chocolate Ice Cream and one egg scrambled. Yep. That’s the gluten free option.

Luckily Parrish asked the staff person if they had any fruit – she enthusiastically nodded Yes! (You could tell she wasn’t impressed with the plate she was offering me) She came back to my room with a giant take out container full of fruit.

After sleeping for a few hours and staring at our precious baby,

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Parrish ran out quickly to Whole Foods which was only 5 minutes away. Thank goodness! He bought yogurts and frozen meals: EVOL and Amy’s Gluten Free. In my hospital bag I had a few protein bars and granola, and there was a kitchen on our floor that was stocked with peanut butter.

I now felt confident that I could feed myself safely, which was good, because my next “gluten free” meal was one bowl of green beans and one bowl of mashed potatoes.

That’s it.

Good thing I hadn’t been in labor for 50 HOURS and needed nourishment….Oh wait, I had.

I couldn’t believe the lack of protein.

The next morning for breakfast I was brought an identical tray as the day before. Chocolate ice cream, one scrambled egg, two bowls of fruit, and a banana. However, tucked underneath the plate was a “Gluten Free” menu.

Yippee!

I was going to be able to select my food! I was flabbergasted when I saw Gluten Free Toast and Gluten Free Cereal as an offering for breakfast on Monday. What the heck?!

I circled items for each meal. My lunch that Sunday and my supper, and finally my breakfast for Monday morning. For lunch I chose a soup with salad – for supper I chose grilled chicken with roasted vegetables. I couldn’t believe my selection.

Literally. I could NOT believe it.

I wish I had had more faith in Duke Regional….then again, it’s lucky I didn’t.

When my lunch arrived, I raised the lid on my tray to find a bowl of iceberg lettuce, a bowl of green beans, and a pudding cup.

No soup – and I guess I could call the bowl of iceberg a “salad” but there was no dressing and no other vegetable in sight. Not even a sad piece of cabbage or strings of carrots. Nada.

By the time supper rolled in, I readied my camera. My blog friends would not believe it!

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Not only was it not what I ordered, it certainly was NOT gluten free! But you want to know the saddest thing:

When I shared this on social media I learned that I was not alone. In fact, this picture and others I shared of the food were flocked with comments by dear readers sharing their similar tales of woe.

One sweet reader had had abdominal surgery and then was given beef broth with barley in it. Another had to call a friend to bring her food while she was recovering. Message after message, it started to hit home for me. Nearly eight years of being gluten free, and I’m still learning the same lesson: be wary of those trying to feed you. Even a hospital!

Ask questions.

Be an advocate for yourself and have a support system ready to advocate for you! I was so out of it that first morning, thank goodness Parrish asked for fruit!

Be prepared. Make plans to bring your own food or have safe food brought to you.

Trust no one. Sad? Yes. Dramatic? Maybe. But oh so true. Only you can ensure that what you’re eating is gluten free. Be sure you really trust anyone whose food you accept.

And my breakfast that last morning?

I enjoyed a banana with peanut butter and a protein bar – provided by Parrish.

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What did the hospital provide me with?

Take a guess.

One guess.

You know what it was. 

Yep. Chocolate Ice Cream, one Scrambled Egg, and a bowl of fruit.

#fail

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Go-To Gluten Free Snacks

There’s something about living and caring for a newborn that seems to just suck time away from you.

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I don’t know if it’s breastfeeding Mason Modesto an average of 12 times a day or the diaper changes or the lack of consistent sleep, but we are losing time in the Ravelli house!

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Just yesterday I was sitting on the couch feeding our little Milky Bear (Mason’s well-earned nickname – this baby LOVES the milk!) and I glanced up at the clock. I was shocked to see 1:00pm reflected on the screen – I thought it was 9:30 in the morning!

I guess that’s what happens when you spend hours just staring at your baby….

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I can’t help it! Look at those lips!!

Needless to say, when you live in a black hole of time, meals aren’t exactly eaten at typical hours. Parrish and I are so so SO lucky to have amazing family and friends that have kept our fridge and freezer full of food options, and I have learned to embrace THE SNACK.

Current favorites:

Bananas + Peanut Butter + Granola

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Cabot 2% Milkfat Greek Yogurt + Fresh Fruit + Granola

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Cabot Sliced Cheese with Almonds, Dates, and Fresh Fruit

Scrambled Eggs with Way Too Much Cheese (is that even a thing?!)

Celery and Carrot Sticks with ALL THE HUMMUS

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I am OBSESSED with this Mango Sriracha Hummus from Roots. I picked it up at Whole Foods after seeing it on Instagram. It’s just the right amount of sweet with heat. Locally made in Asheville, NC – I hope your local Whole Foods carries it. So dang yummy!

What about you? What’s your current go-to snack?

ALSO, case in point: I started writing this post at 8:00am this morning and I’m finally hitting publish at 12 noon!!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Baby Ravelli is Here

Love.

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Life-Changing, Heart Expanding, Can’t Stop Kissing… Love.

Mason Modesto Ravelli born on January 31st, 2015 in the wee hours of the morning at 3:57 am. 7 pounds and 14 ounces of squishy, snuggly baby goodness.

I started having contractions on his actual due date, Thursday the 29th. I couldn’t believe my luck!

Little did I know that I had about 50 hours of labor ahead of me. I also didn’t know that my platelets were low, making it impossible to get that epidural that I desperately wanted on Friday the 30th around lunch time. And I definitely didn’t know that I would have to push for 3 long hours to meet my little man.

But you know what - You know what I really didn’t know: how much I could love someone. I didn’t realize that my heart could grow that much and that my capacity for love could increase times a million. I didn’t realize that I could fall deeper and deeper in love with my husband every day. I never knew that I could be this happy.

I have so much to tell you guys about: the birth story, the hospital food, my latest gluten free finds – so look for all of that next week! (hopefully!!)

And thank you all SO MUCH for the kind messages and comments on Facebook and Instagram ( glutenhatesme ). I love our online family!