Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Celebration of 32 Years

And just like that, another birthday has passed!

The best part about birthdays is that you get to be showered with love by all the wonderful people in your life. I definitely woke up this morning feeling beyond blessed…..and pleasantly FULL from a day of yummy food!

I started the day with Pumpkin Pancakes and then headed to local treasure Primal Food and Spirits for lunch.

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 Primal is a completely gluten free restaurant located in South Durham. I’ve blogged about it many, many times – it is SO good! Now open for lunch, I couldn’t wait to go try out their new menu!

Parrish and I started with the Grilled Romaine Salad to share. I’ve had this once at dinner and knew it was tasty.

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Yep, it’s still delicious! And of course Parrish loved it – I think he wished we had each ordered one instead of sharing. The dressing is so creamy and it pairs perfectly with the smoky and sweet flavors from the bacon. PLUS gluten free croutons y’all! YUM. 

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For my meal I ordered the  Beef Patty Melt. Grilled pasture raised beef topped with gooey cheddar cheese, whole grain mustard, and caramelized onions on top of gluten free bread.

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I couldn’t put it down! I love a good burger, and this one really hit the spot!

After lunch my boys headed home and I rushed to make it to a hair appointment. I hadn’t had a haircut in nearly a year – I was LOOOOONG overdue. I ended up getting 8 inches chopped off and I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out. It was a literal weight off my shoulders!

To end the day, Parrish and I had our first night out without baby, and I’m happy to say we both survived!

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Me, Parrish, and MOH enjoyed a delicious dinner at The Little Dipper in Durham – my go-to restaurant for celebrating. Local friends, you MUST go!

We started with a Havarti Dill Cheese fondue, then salads, followed by our meat course: filet, chicken, sashimi grade tuna. We ended the meal with my favorite chocolate fondue: Half Peanut Butter/Half Dark Chocolate and a glass of bubbly!

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It was such a special night, thanks in big part to the best baby sitter ever: Grandma Emily!

Mason had a great time playing with Grandma, and we enjoyed a couple of hours to indulge in delicious food….and try to talk about something other than our miracle angel baby!

Thank you all for the sweet birthday wishes yesterday! You guys sure know how to make a girl feel special!

Mason has his BIG 2 month appointment later today, so I’m spending the morning mentally preparing MYSELF for the shots!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Let the Festivities Begin

Happy Wednesday friends AND Happy Birthday to me!

Today, my brother and I are celebrating our 32nd birthday and it hardly seems real. You know you’re getting older when you start saying things like “I don’t feel 32” or you have to ask your husband to remind you how old you’re actually turning!

This time last year, I told Parrish that 31 would be my last birthday without a baby. I hoped and prayed that by my 32nd birthday I would be a Mom. Prayer answered and this is by far my best birthday yet!

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Plus with Easter over the weekend, I feel like we’ve been celebrating all week!

We started the festivities on Friday night when Mason finally had the pleasure of meeting his paternal Great Grandmother, Great Grandma Gruelle:

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It was no surprise that he instantly loved her. Warm and caring, she has a fantastic smile and loves to sing, which happen to be Mason’s top two favorite things ever.

After introductions, we settled in for a fabulous night with take out from our current obsession:

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Patrick Janes Gourmet Pizza Bar in Cary

My MIL chose a few different pies for us to share AND two cheesecakes! Mason’s Grandpa Jeff had the right idea with the cheesecake:

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a bite of both the Salted Caramel and the Chocolate Peanut Butter. Both were gluten free and both were AMAZING. If I had to choose, I guess I would say the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake was the best but I’d rather not choose and just have both!

Saturday was another fun-filled day as we headed over to Mason’s Uncle Morgan’s house for an Easter celebration, complete with a French Fry bar!

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From now on, if I’m throwing a party, I’m having a French Fry bar with toppings. It was so much fun and so so yummy. I was sad to cut the party short, but Mason and I had plans to cheer Dad on in his first soccer game of the season!

It was a beautiful day for soccer, but admittedly maybe a bit too windy. I kept Mason wrapped on me the entire time and he happily snoozed away while Dad scored a goal.

Sunday we made the trip to my parent’s house for more Easter celebrations and Mason got to meet more cousins and his Aunt Susan.

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There was a lot of head petting and baby talk, all of which Mason loved. He’s such a lucky guy to have so many people excited to meet him.

My Mom made a tasty Easter lunch complete with asparagus bundles wrapped in bacon. YUM so good.

After three days of non-stop partying, Mason and I were both happy to stay home on Monday and relax. It’s crazy the amount of preparation and planning it takes just to leave the house with a baby, so I was happy for a break.

And Mason was happy to get to play without a onesie on!

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And now here we are on Wednesday, the week is half way over and flying by!

Parrish started my morning with Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancakes (always delicious) and presents from him and Mason.

We’re hanging around the house today – I have a LONG AWAITED haircut this afternoon at 2:30 and then we’re going to The Little Dipper for birthday fondue!

Have a great day friends! 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

New Gluten Free Items Delivered to Your Door: Taste Guru Review

Trying new gluten free products is one of my absolute favorite things to do.

When I first went gluten free 8 years ago, there weren’t nearly as many gluten free options at the store, but lately I feel like I see a new product every week! Plus I’m pretty lucky in Durham, there are tons of great stores (Whole Foods, Earth Fare, Fresh Market, and Harris Teeter) within driving distance.

However, you always run the risk of shelling out the cash and ending up with a dud. I know I personally have bought a few items that cost nearly $10 a piece that ended up being inedible.

So when Taste Guru contacted me to review one of their Gluten Free boxes on the blog, I happily agreed. I love trying new products!

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Taste Guru delivers delicious new gluten free products along with chef inspired recipes right to your door. In each box you receive 7 - 10 great gluten-free items, plus little bonus items. You can sign up to receive just one single box, or you can choose a subscription and get new products delivered each month for 3 months, 6 months, or even a whole year!

The price for one single box is $24, which includes shipping. At such a great price, I love the idea of sending a box as a gift!

Inside my box:

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Tons of gluten free items that I had never heard of! Also included:

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a product cheat sheet that tells you more about each item and purchasing information in case you fall in love and need more.

My box arrived at the perfect time because Parrish and I both have really come to rely on having quick grab and go items in our pantry.

My favorite item in the box: Sour Beans! They’re sweet and sour just like Sour Patch Kids. Parrish’s favorite: Egg White Chips

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We enjoyed both on a recent sunny afternoon outside.

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Mason is learning more and more about Spring, and I think it’s safe to say he likes it! There was a warm breeze blowing through his little baby hairs, and he was just babbling away.

I enjoyed digging in to my Taste Guru box, but I can honestly say that I wouldn’t buy a subscription for myself, since my grocery stores have so many gluten free options. But I do think it would make a neat gift for a Gluten Free friend or family member.

To learn more about Taste Guru you can visit their website or like them on Facebook.

I received a free Taste Guru Gluten Free box in exchange for a review post on Gluten Hates Me. All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Gluten Free Chocolate White Chocolate Cheesecake

Happy Tuesday friends AND Happy last day of March!

I can’t believe how quickly March flew by – hopefully the start of April means we’ll have warmer days. I mean, can Spring officially start already?! I know those of you in Boston are nodding your head in agreement. Yes please.

I wanted to check in with you guys yesterday and tell you about the yummy supper I had on Sunday afternoon, but the day got away from me.

I wonder why…..

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This kid smiles with his WHOLE face! Eyes, tongue, cheek – squeal! I love him.

So better late than never you guys because my meal on Sunday was AWESOME!

Local friends run, don’t walk, to Patrick Jane’s Gourmet Pizza Bar in Cary.

Gluten Free options? OH YEAH – they have them. They have TONS of them! And the pizza….

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is so good!

I honestly haven’t been able to get this meal out of my mind. I even thought about driving over yesterday and getting a few pies to go – I’m obsessed!

With over 33 different pies available, I had a tough time choosing. In fact, everyone at our table had to ask for more time to consider; they all sound so good!

I ended up choosing the Artichoke GF Mini:

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and I was so excited to see this little sticker on my pizza board when it arrived:

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Even when you trust the restaurant, there is something extra comforting about additional indicators from the kitchen that your food is gluten free. I love the different plates at PF Changs and Bella Monica in Raleigh; so I was happy to see that Patrick Jane’s is using a sticker to put their diners at ease.

My only regret – that I didn’t order a bigger pie! Or a second pie….or a third pie. I wish I had had leftovers!

Luckily Patrick-Jane’s has plenty of gluten free desserts, so when my pie was gone I had a tasty treat to hold me over.

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Chocolate White Chocolate Cheesecake

When the dessert arrived, I was a tiny bit skeptical. It just looked too good. My waitress was kind enough to call the owner and ask about the specific ingredients in the crust. Yep, it was gluten free. And yep, it was amazing.

Also amazing, the customer service! The entire staff, from our waitress to the floor manager, were super knowledgeable about gluten free and I completely trusted that my meal would be safe for me to eat.

Patrick Jane’s Gourmet Pizza Bar

1353 Kildaire Farm Rd, Cary, NC 27511

I can’t wait to eat there again!

I hope you have a great Tuesday! I’ll be hanging with this little ham all day:

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and enjoying the sunshine!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Dear Mason – A Reflection on Two Months

Dear Mason,

Happy Two Month Birthday buddy! Man, time flies when you’re having fun!

Mason Smiles

And that’s what hanging out with you is – FUN!

Shortly after your first month birthday, you started smiling and let me tell you – it was life changing!

At first you really made us work for them. Daddy and I would say and do anything to try to get you to smile.

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But then you just couldn’t stop smiling! Once you were 6 weeks old, if you weren’t eating or sleeping then you were most likely smiling.

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or talking!

Smiles are amazing but your baby babbles melt our heart!

When you finish drinking milk, me and Daddy take you to your room to play. We change your diaper and lay you flat so that you can kick your legs. You love to kick your legs! Sometimes we leave your diaper off for a while and let you play naked. That is definitely your favorite way to play because you happily jibber jabber the entire time!

Daddy and I talk back to you – we don’t know what we’re saying but you seem to love it. You also love when we sing songs to you.

Daddy is very good at making up different silly songs. Your current favorites are ‘What’s That Hiding In Your Cheeks’ and ‘Brontosaurus’.

Much like the first month of your life, milk is still your tip-top priority. Hanging with Mom and Dad is a close second, but milk is still the best ever.

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I treasure the little cat naps you take when your belly is full and you’re snuggled up with me. You are growing way too fast for Mommy, so I’ve learned to take it slow and just focus on our time together.

Your love for milk is continuing to help you grow big and strong. You have grown out of your 3 month outfits and now fit snugly in 6 month outfits. We just had to retire your Dino PJs (Mommy’s favorite!).

You’re still not a huge fan of tummy time but you tolerate it a bit longer than before. You still love bath time, although you’re only averaging about one per week.

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You’re becoming more aware of the world around you, and it’s so much fun to discover the different things that catch your eye. You are currently obsessed with: lamps, ceiling fans, the top corner of your bedroom ceiling, your wall of books, and the pictures on the refrigerator.

You’ve also discovered sucking on your hands this past week. It’s a little confusing because you suck and suck and suck but no milk comes out! I see some potential thumb sucking in your future. You still aren’t crazy about a pacifier, but on a rare occasion you tolerate one for a few minutes, only to spit it out once you’ve fallen asleep.

Speaking of sleep – you are an amazing Magical Unicorn Baby Mason because you have been gifting Mommy and Daddy some long stretches of sleep at night!

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Starting around Week 6, you started sleeping for 5 hour stretches and now you average somewhere around 7 hours per night. Mommy doesn’t talk about it much for fear of jinxing it!

The extra sleep for Mom and Dad means more fun for you during the day! When we don’t feel like zombies, we love to take adventures with you outside of the house.

We took you to the first of many Food Truck Rodeos:

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You had a great time! I mean, what’s more fun than waking up to the smell of cheeseburgers?!

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You’ve also met some special friends in the past couple weeks:

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and while you didn’t stay awake for all of the introductions, you still let all your new friends snuggle you. You’re such a thoughtful baby!

Even with all the new experiences and friends, me and Dad are still your favorite.

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Which is fine with us because you’re our favorite too!

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Our Newborn Must-Haves aka Survival Items for the First Two Months

I honestly can’t believe that Baby Mason Modesto is going to be 2 months old on tomorrow!

It’s weird – part of me feels like Mason was just born and another part of me feels like he has been here forever!

I’ve received a few emails from readers asking about our baby carrier or which stroller we use, so I thought it would be fun to share our Newborn must-haves. Below are the items that we’ve absolutely loved and a few realizations of things we just didn’t need.

Boppy Newborn Lounger, Geo

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Basically a giant pillow for a baby!

It seemed silly at first, but as first-time parents it has been nice to have a spot that I know I can safely sit Mason while I get ready for nursing on the couch. We also love to sit him in the lounger and sing him songs or tell him stories. Newborns are so wiggly; this lounger is perfect for giving Mason a snug and safe spot to hang out.

Solly Baby Wrap

While I was pregnant, I became obsessed with baby wearing. Who wouldn’t want a snuggly baby hanging out with them hands-free?! After doing tons of research, I decided that I definitely wanted a light-weight, stretchy, breathable wrap for Mason’s newborn stage. I went with the Solly wrap and I have to say that I have absolutely loved it!

Learning how to wrap was simple, and I definitely get better every time I do it. The fabric is light and breathable so I don’t get super sweaty when he’s on my chest. He can keep his head tucked out when he’s awake:

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or I can tuck his little noggin in when he’s sleeping:

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*Note: In a hold like the one above, Mason’s head should be facing the side so that his nose isn’t squished and his airways are clear. I always turn his head – the boy loves to smoosh – and it’s hard to tell in this photo but his head is turned.

I especially loved the Solly wrap in those first few weeks when I really just needed to get out of the house but I didn’t want strangers to try and touch him. Cold and flu season + People with poor social boundaries = no bueno.

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Even Parrish has gotten in on the baby wearing fun!

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BumGenius 4.0 Pocket Diapers and All-in-One Diapers

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I’m going to write a separate post about Cloth Diapering because we are loving it! In my opinion, the BumGenius diapers make it SUPER easy. We used pre-folds for a short time, and then switched over to pocket diapers and AIO diapers once Mason hit 8 pounds (which didn’t take long!).

Video - Getting to Know Your Baby: Sleep

The amazing lactation consultant I worked with locally sent me the video above and it was a lifesaver! As first time parents, Parrish and I had no idea what Mason’s baby cues were. We knew to check his diaper if he was crying and then feed him, but that was about it. Once we started looking for his cues, particularly those that let us know he was getting tired and those that meant he was over stimulated, we saw a drastic change in his sleep and overall disposition.

Basically, we were letting him get over tired because we kept “playing” with him when he wasn’t interested. All he wanted to do was decompress and go to sleep!

Sleep Machine App

Babies love white noise. As it turns out, Mason loves the sound of the vacuum cleaner! This idea actually came from our pediatrician. He told us that lots of newborns can be calmed down by the sound of a vacuum. Later that week Mason had a melt down in the car seat – he was hungry and didn’t understand that he had wait 10 minutes until he could eat (he is a baby afterall!) Then I remembered the vacuum setting on my Sleep Machine App on my iPhone.

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Now I can use my phone to help calm him down when he’s tired in public and fussy. I turn on the app and he’s out like a light – magic!

Baby Connect App

I basically live and die by this app. You can time breastfeeding by side, count sleep, track diapers, and even store medical information. At the least, this app helps me remember which side I last used for breastfeeding. But for me, at the most, it helps me feel more in control of uncontrollable situations.

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Newborns are too young to schedule, but I can follow his rhythm. This app helps me anticipate what could come next in our eat, play, sleep rhythm and makes me feel more prepared. Or as prepared as you can feel with a newborn! Plus, the geek in me loves the charts option – It’s fascinating!

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AND in those early weeks when I was SUPER sleep deprived, Baby Connect helped me remember what I had done in the middle of the night!

Teddy Bear Suit

I feel like this is self-explanatory. If you don’t understand why you should dress your newborn up like a teddy bear….then we can’t be friends.

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I picked this brown bear suit up at H&M for 20 bucks and it was worth every penny! I was so sad when he outgrew it, but I can’t wait to dress him up in a larger suit this coming winter.

Gripe Water

Magical, magical baby juice. Parrish and I are so thankful that our friends gifted us a bottle of Gripe Water. While Mason isn’t a super gassy baby (knock on wood), he does get some gas “stuck” that keeps him awake. The first time we ever used it, Mason had been having a fussy day. He hadn’t really napped but I didn’t notice because we had family visiting. That afternoon you could tell he was super tired but he just couldn’t fall asleep. I bicycled his legs, massaged his tummy, and burped him forever. Nada. Then we gave him the gripe water and LITERALLY 30 seconds later he passed out. (And slept for 3 hours poor guy)

Now we always have a bottle in the fridge and a bottle in the pantry for back up!

Items we didn’t need:

Baby Nail Clippers – Attempting to clip his nails was so stressful, you would have thought I was performing open heart surgery. I’m sticking to biting them myself for now – possibly TMI for some of you but it is way easier! And surprisingly doesn’t gross me out.

Tons and Tons of Clothes - As a super fresh newborn, Mason went through about 6-8 outfits a day. And by outfits, I mean zip-up PJs because Parrish and I quickly learned that neither of us had time for full on outfits. We were doing laundry nearly every day, and we would always end up putting Mason in the same PJs everyday. So no, we didn’t need a ton of NB clothes or 0-3 month clothing. At just 2 months old, Mason is already wearing mostly 6 month outfits. A few of his 3 month outfits still fit but just barely!

What about you Moms? What items got you through those first months?

What did you end up not needing?

AND what will we need in the coming months?