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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Whole30: Week 1

Last week I began the Whole30 program, a Paleo-based dietary re-set.  I found out about it at the beginning of November from some good friends of ours, and since checking it out was determined to do at least one.  I poured over their book, It Starts With Food, in just a few days.  But the timing just wasn't right, considering that it would overlap Thanksgiving, then Clark Family Christmas, then Christmas, then a two-week visit from Trevvor's family... so FINALLY here in the middle of January I began.

I'm a week in.  And I haven't cheated.  Not even when I went to Mason-Dixon Gluten Free Bakery.  Not even when I went to the mall.  Not even when I went to a vegan meet-up with my parents (rice and honey in ALL the things).  And not even when I got mastitis and felt queasy and just wanted some saltine crackers, for cryin' out loud.

Unless you know me really well, you don't understand how big of a deal that is.  I've started ways of eating, some more drastic than others, for years, only to slip a few days in.  It's a vicious cycle, cliche as that is, and each failure convinces me that I just don't have will-power or self-control, I'm just bound to fail, I'll never be able to consistently eat like I know I should, etc.

So this is big.  This whole cheat-less week.

I've really enjoyed eating this way.  I feel good, I'm sleeping better, I'm not as moody or lethargic, the food is delicious and filling, and my jeans are getting slightly too big (which is just a bonus, not a goal).  Plus I know that my milk is healthier for Charles and that, since he eats off our plates, his solid food is healthier too.

So what is the Whole30?  What exactly can I eat, and what have I eliminated for this period?

Well, my breakfasts have included eggs, avocados, berries, coconut milk, and fresh veggie juice (though not all on the same morning).  Lunches are often a whole chicken that I crock-potted (like that verb there?) the night before and eat for several lunches in a row, plus a veggie-stir fry or a salad.  Dinners I've been alternating between red meat (roast, steak) and fish (salmon, mahi mahi, tilapia), and usually include some combination of sweet potato, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.  Snacking usually means some nuts, coconut milk, or fruit.

Basically, you can eat eggs, meat, all vegetables, and fruits and nuts (the latter two in moderation).
You CAN'T eat:
- dairy
- grains or corn
- legumes
- soy
- sugar: natural or artificial (including honey, syrup, molassas)
- artificial colors/flavors/preservatives
- alcohol
- white potatoes

They encourage you to have three meals a day with a protein, some veggies, and a fat source at each one.  Nursing/pregnant moms or folks who do some extreme exercises may need more meals or altered ratios.  The hardest part for me isn't food cravings for bread or sugar; it's trying to get all three meal components at the same time--with Charles around, I'm used to just munching throughout the day!

The program may sound extreme, but when you prepare food at home, it's not that difficult.  It's going out to eat that's the hard part!  But they don't expect you to eat like this forever--just the 30 days (or however much longer you think you need to detox).  Then you have a period where you re-introduce foods every few days to see how your body reacts.  (I plan to reintroduce corn and oatmeal pretty quick!)  But obviously sticking to a diet as close to this as possible long-term is ideal, and that's what I plan to do.

There's a lot more info at the links in the first paragraph, and at Whole9 Life.  I've loved the forums there when I've gotten stuck a couple times.  I love how great I'm feeling even more!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Charles is One!

This is a picture of my first glimpse of Charles, and his first glimpse of me.  He looks slightly concerned, but it's one of my favorite pictures of all time.  That tiny, not-so-sure face belongs to a boy who is now one year old.  My boy.  

Charles has changed so much these past weeks.  Right before his birthday, he had a super rough week with sleep and wanting momma.  He went from waking up once a night to waking up like a newborn, not wanting to go down for any naps unless I was holding him, and not even wanting to be left with Trevvor or a grandmother when I walked out of the room.  In hindsight, I think that's when he hit a big developmental jump, because he seems to have shifted from baby to toddler in just that week.  He was also cutting a tooth, which I'm sure didn't help.

Charles at his newborn well-baby check-up

Charles isn't walking yet, but he's getting more adept at cruising around furniture and along walls.  He's learned how to "steer" us when we're walking him holding his hands (and he's quite proud of it).  Trevvor taught him how to swing his legs around to get down off a bed or sofa or lap, and he's really quick at getting up the stairs (even the big flights at Nana & Grandpa's), but isn't sure enough to get back down.  He loves climbing and navigating through small spaces while crawling.

The past couple weeks he's starting scrunching up his nose into the most adorable face, and he tilts his head to one side and grins when he's being impish.  He also has a face for when you ask him to do something he knows how to do (like stick out his tongue), but he doesn't feel like doing it--I wish I could describe it.  He loves playing peekaboo around furniture or curtains, and often initiates it.  When he wants me to stick out my tongue, he pokes at my lips until I get it.  He can wave bye-bye and has a different wave for "hi," usually accompanied by a wide-mouth grin.  He shakes his head for "no," and has really learned to push things (or people) away when he doesn't want them near him.  (The other day he climbed from my arms to Trevvor's then looked at me and pushed my face away with his hand.  Forcefully.  It was like he was saying, "Okay, it's my turn with Papa!")

Charles at his One-Year well-baby check-up

Charles is still nursing throughout the day and once or twice at night.  I love it.  He's quite the acrobatic nursling, so we're trying to teach him nursing "etiquette" without much success.  (He is getting better at lying still on the changing table though.)  His most common solid foods are egg, avocado, meat (salmon, chicken, beef), and whatever veggies we're eating.  He likes sipping coconut milk and he LOVES rice crackers and rice puffs.  Trying to keep grains to a minimum, but it's hard to find healthy non-squishable finger-foods for a one-year-old!  He's started sharing my apples with me after I eat the peel off--his eight little teeth are helping with that!

Charles isn't super independent yet, which I'm not rushing.  He's usually playing right at my feet or I'm wearing him on my back while doing housework.  He loves things with wheels, which is good because he got lots of cars for Christmas and birthday!  He is getting better and better at throwing that ball back and forth and really seems to delight in his skill.  I've loved watching him discover relationships between objects, like that a smaller cup can fit in a bigger one, or this toy can roll through the tube or fit in the hole.  When he figures something like that out, he'll sit and do it over and over and over again, very studiously as if it's the most serious business in the world.  And rightly so:  learning like that is his job right now!

His FAVORITE toys are some little animals.  When he was born, his Uncle Chris gave him a little toy tiger.  It's been sitting on his chest-of-drawers all this time until recently we handed it to him during a diaper change.  He carries that thing everywhere and can even say roar when asked what the tiger says.  So of course Nana got him three more little animals for his birthday last weekend--they're in the picture below.  Tiger is still his favorite, followed by the panda bear.

Playing with his favorite toys:  tiny animals

Charles loves music.  Several months ago he started "dancing" to music when he heard it, and he just keeps adding to his moves!  He dances in his car-seat, while nursing, while eating, while sitting, while standing... Now he's added his arms to the mix and likes to "conduct" the music.  It's. So. Cute.  He got a xylophone for his birthday and he's enjoying making a little music of his own.  I see violin lessons in his future... ;)

Verbally, he's gotten much more chattery with still very few words.  He's had "mama" for a while, and sometimes we'll hear a "baba" (papa), and my mom said last night that he said "nana."  As an English major, I was very excited and proud that his third spontaneous word was "book!"  That was just yesterday.  He's very good at imitating sounds, especially nonsense sounds or animal noises.  He's also repeated "ball" a few times, said "pot" clear as day when I pointed one out to him, as well as some other things once or twice.  Most impressive was when he parroted "danger" back to me--the "d" and the "g" were there at least! ;)  The past few days he's exploded in sounds and parroting skills. He's just soaking it all in.  I'm trying to do better about labeling things now that I know he understands.  He often amazes me with his comprehension.  He has his toy tiger and a stuffed tiger, and earlier today we were standing in front of my parents' fridge and I asked him, "Where's the tiger?" and he pointed to a tiger magnet (that really looks very different from his toys) from the zoo!

Hmm.. other random tidbits... We're still cloth diapering with pre-folds and covers and loving it.  The few times we use disposables I can't wait to get him back in cloth!  Charles has had two fevers, both in December, both were treated very successfully at home.  He's never had any ear infections.  He's had a little bit of a rash on his cheeks and nose and chin at times, usually when he's teething and/or snotty (which often occur together).  His hair is so long now that it really needs a trim, but I can't bear to think of it!  Poor guy... it's in his eyes more often than not.  Charles loves rough-and-tumbling with us on the bed--it's one of his favorite places to play... which, now that I think about it, may not be creating the best association for when he has a "big boy bed" of his own.... Oh well.

Our family, Fall 2013

I just love being Charles' mom.  I have so much fun with my little buddy, and Trevvor does too.  It's not always easy, but thanks to him, each day is the best day of my life.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

My Son, the One Year Old

I can't believe I'm even typing that.  I have a son.  And he is one year old.

I have a son.  And he is one year old.

My sweet Charles is my long-awaited blessing, and even now, a year into his "outside" life and 20 months into me knowing of his existence, I sometimes have to remind myself that this is my life.  He is my son.  I am his mother.  I will always be his mother.

This year... This year has been so, so hard.  I have cried.  A lot.  I have felt guilty.  A lot.  I have felt inadequate.  All the time.  I have second-guessed God for thinking I was capable of handling motherhood more often than I'd like to admit.

But here we are on the other side of it.  This best year of my life.

Charles is the joy of our lives, the joy of our marriage.  I miss him when he naps too long (while in the same breath being thankful for the extra moments of rest or of productivity).  I can count on one hand the number of times we haven't been in the same building.  He has changed me, challenged me.  I love him fiercely, and he's beginning to show just how much he loves me back.  Truly, my cup runneth over.

I haven't been the mother I thought I'd be.  I haven't eaten perfectly.  I haven't used all my time wisely.  I haven't been as patient as I was sure I would be.  I've been selfish quite often, mostly with my time (and mostly with my sleep time).  But I have loved my child more than I knew I was capable.  I am growing less selfish each day.  I am learning more about nutrition all the time and, more importantly, finally starting to stick with my healthy eating plans more and more.  I am sincerely trying to eliminate distractions and simplify my expectations of productivity so I can focus more on relationships.  The patience thing... I'm still working on.  ;)

Just as I have grown into motherhood, Charles has grown from an infant to a little boy in one short year.  He's gone from only needing and taking to also loving and giving.  We have grown together.  It has been a beautiful thing.

I know now that I will never "arrive" at good motherhood.  I will never be that mom I dreamed of being.  But by God's grace I will always be moving forwards--sometimes more sure of myself than others--and in another year's time, I will be that much closer to the dream, and that much closer to my son.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy 2014 from the Clarks!

Greetings, loved ones!

We hope this letter finds you well, content, and full of joy.  Our lives have certainly changed this year, and we’re sure many of yours have as well.  

Our big change has been for the better.  To our great joy, our son, Charles Sebastian, was born on January 18, 2013, at 3:26 in the morning.  He was 7 pounds, 15 ounces and 21 inches long.  It was a healthy, easy pregnancy followed by a natural, challenging, but ultimately wonderful, labor.  What a blur the past eleven months have been!  Charles is such an incredible baby and is fast becoming a little boy.  He sat up at five months, started crawling at seven, and the past couple months has been “pre-walking”--pulling up and cruising around furniture and walking while holding onto our hands.  “Mama” was his first word, and he’s working on “Papa” (but right now it sounds more like “baba”).  He loves playing peek-a-boo, sticking his tongue out, feeding himself, clapping, rolling a ball back and forth, giving high fives, waving bye-bye, and holding spoons (or pens or straws or any other easily graspable object) in each hand.  His favorite things to munch are avocado+banana and kale puffs.  Charles loves being worn on Mama or Papa in the sling, Ergo, or woven wrap--and we love keeping him close!

Trevvor is working at PricewaterhouseCoopers as a tax accountant in downtown Birmingham.  He accepted the position in February 2011 as an associate and last summer was promoted to senior!  In his (rare) spare time when he’s not working or being the most amazing husband and father ever, he has enjoyed trail running, coaching a community soccer team of nine-year-olds, and volunteering at a local coffeeshop.  Trevvor loves learning about coffee and has experimented quite a bit at home with different roasts and brewing methods.  Both of us, but especially Trevvor, love trying new local eateries and hang-outs around town, and there are plenty of good ones to try!  Since we bought our house in 2011, he has also spent a lot of time learning how to update it, and besides painting almost the entire interior, he has also learned to tile floors and install hardwood and trim (not to mention the normal plumbing and electrical projects that are part of home-ownership).  He’s done a fantastic job with everything!

Stephanie gets to stay at home with Master Charles just like she always dreamed of doing when she became a mommy.  Motherhood has been the most difficult and the most wonderful thing she has ever experienced.  She has enjoyed attending local mommy meet-ups with Charles like La Leche League, Babywearing International of Birmingham (aka: The Magic City Slingers), and a local cloth diapering group.  Stephanie loves learning about natural pregnancy, childbirth, parenting, and health.  She is constantly reading about nutrition and alternative health-care so she can better serve her family.  Just recently she has delved into the incredible world of Essential Oils and became a consultant so she can help other families be healthier too.  Stephanie is also a World Vision Child Ambassador and has organized several wonderful events to connect children in need with sponsors who care.  We have continued sponsoring children ourselves, and it is truly a blessing to see them growing and an honor to be part of their precious lives.

We want all of you to know we love you very much, and we hope 2014 brings an opportunity to see each one of you and share a bit of life together.

Love in Christ,
Trevvor, Stephanie, & Charles Clark

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