hey babe (13).

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You turned 2 a month ago and of course we can hardly believe it. ¬†It’s the journey of parenthood to constantly stand amazed at how fast time passes. ¬†You talk a lot and say things that surprise us on a daily basis. ¬†Everyone tells me to write it all down but honestly by the end of the day I can barely remember! ¬†You put my pants on your head yesterday and told me you were a “ghost”. ¬†I have no idea where you learned that but it was hysterical. ¬†You’re going through a “Grampy” phase right now so he’s pretty much all you talk about. ¬†Grampy, animals and “Go park!” are your favorite topics. ¬†You spend most of the day smiling or laughing and you’re typically very easy to have around unless you’re tired and then you’re grumpy and whiny and that can be a challenge at times. ¬†Toddlers, it turns out, are a TON of work! ¬†Even the good ones (which you are) tend to be pretty messy, very active and command the attention of an entire room! ¬†Your dad was joking with me this weekend while we were at the farm that it’s amazing how one 2 year old can keep 4 adults running around in circles. ¬†I switch back and forth almost every day between wanting another baby so you can have a sibling and feeling like “one is all I need”. ¬†I’m guessing this is a pretty normal way to feel. ¬†There’s a huge part of me that wants another baby and a bigger family and there’s an equally large part of me that thinks the 3 of us are perfect just as we are. ¬†I still have a few years to decide.

You still love all things artistic. ¬†Coloring and drawing and going to the park are what you love do do most during your playtime. ¬†You like to talk about the “big slide” and you also love the library because they have a fish tank and lots of animal puzzles. ¬†Over the past couple of months you started saying phrases which is so much fun. ¬†You can tell us things like, “Oh no! ¬†Messy!” when you walk into a room or, “Go see NannaPapa!” (all one word). ¬†You love taking bubble baths and your favorite thing to draw lately are “bubbles” (oblong shapes over and over). ¬†This weekend you did a shapes puzzle at the farm and there was one left but you didn’t know where it was so you looked up at us and said, “Missing oval!” ¬†Sure enough, it was an oval indeed. ¬†

I took you to the zoo for the first time 2 weeks ago. ¬†You had been to the rainforest once before but never to the rest of the zoo. ¬†You loved the monkeys and elephants and when I pointed to a turtle you exclaimed, “tortoise!” ¬†I looked at the sign and of course it was a tortoise. ¬†You’re smart and detail-oriented and so much fun. ¬†Your personality is definitely a combination of your dad and myself in some ways but also very much “you”. ¬†You like to sing chopped up versions of Happy Birthday and The Itsy Bitsy Spider. ¬†Your daddy is the light of your little life and although you love animals an impossible amount, you’re still not a big fan of Thea. ¬†I’m thinking it’s because she steals your food.

Speaking of food, ice cream is your favorite. ¬†You ask me for an “ice cone” at least once a day. ¬†I, of course, don’t give one to you that often but this summer you’ve had your fare share of treats. ¬†I tried so desperately to feed you healthy foods in your first two years of life but these past few months you could survive on chicken nuggets, yogurt and applesauce alone.

Things are still busy in our lives as your dad and I are both in school. ¬†For him it’s just the beginning. ¬†He’s in his second semester. ¬†For me it’s nearing the end. ¬†My program ends in 3 short months and then I have 1-2 classes left before graduation in May. ¬†You often have a sitter one afternoon a week but otherwise we rotate being with you so we can study and I can go to work a few days a week. ¬†It’s not always easy but I’m really proud of how we’re doing. ¬†We’re getting good grades and taking care of you and our house is only a minor disaster for the most part. ¬†The wedding is 8 months away so most of our plans are in place. ¬†We’re getting married at the Greek Gardens (pictured above) in a morning ceremony surrounded by family and having brunch at L’albatros. ¬†We thought we might go to Paris for a honeymoon but we seem to have decided against this because it’s so far way. ¬†Instead we’ll probably go away for a long weekend and save a bigger trip for down the road when school is over for both of us and things have calmed down.

We can’t wait for you to say, “I love you” back to us but you’ve been saying, “I see you” instead and it’s almost better than “I love you”. ¬†You hug us around the legs and look up at us with those big, brown eyes and we know that you really do see us. ¬†And we see you. ¬†

I told your dad this week that I feel seen by him. ¬†I always have. ¬†It’s funny how you go through life and know so many people and many of them you love but when you stop and think about it you realize you don’t actually feel ‘seen’ by them all. ¬†It’s a rare thing and I’m so grateful to have found that connection with both of you. ¬†

I try not to rush you or push you or breeze over the small moments. ¬†You have your own pace and it’s a lot slower than mine but I’m lucky to get to walk beside you so I take a deep breath and slow it down. ¬†Where do I really have to be that’s more important than holding your hand?

Yesterday we were getting ready to go to Trader Joe’s to get groceries and I was zooming around the house throwing things in my purse and putting your shoes on and feeding the cat and when we got outside and started walking towards the car you stopped in your tracks. ¬†I said, “What’s wrong? ¬†Let’s go to the store!” ¬†You responded with, “Play with rocks!” ¬†Everything in me wanted to pick you up and march you to the car so we could get on with my plans but instead I said, “Ok” and I sat down in a lawn chair while you gathered rocks from the driveway and lined them up on the picnic table in a perfect row (smallest to biggest). ¬†When you were finished with that you came over to me and crawled up on my lap. ¬†I wanted to cry because I almost missed it, you know? ¬†I almost missed 10 minutes of your ‘two year old ness’ because I was rushing to run errands and being ‘that mom’. ¬†There will be a day when you can’t sit on my lap anymore and I know it’ll come faster than a bullet train. ¬†Everyone tells you to soak it up but so few of us actually do. ¬†I often forget but I’m trying to remember. ¬†

I read this quote once by Catherine M. Wallace, “Listen earnestly to anything [your children] want to tell you, no matter what. ¬†If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them, all of it has always been big stuff.” ¬†That feels true to me.

You stopped calling me “Mama” this month. ¬†I don’t know why or how but you did. ¬†We were upstairs and I wanted to go downstairs so I said, “C’mon, Mo” and you responded, “Ok, Mom” and I stood there in shock. ¬†You haven’t looked back since. ¬†When you call me from your crib you say, “Mommomomomomom!” ¬†No, “Mamamamamamam” anymore. ¬†I mean, I knew the day would come eventually but you’re just a freshly minted TWO!

For all of the ways our lives have changed and the sleepless nights and the messy house and the bath bubbles on the floor and the markers on the wall and the coaxing to get you to eat something or put on your shoes… ¬†I would not trade one second of being your mom because there is also the sweaty hair on my shoulder after a nap and the ‘precious moments’ eyes when you’ve done something naughty and the tiny, chiclet teeth grinning up at me when you’re happy and the soft bottoms of your feet and the sound of your laughter and the “Ok, mom” and the crib full of stuffed animals standing guard as you nap and the jumping up and down when you hear the words “ice cream” and the way you say “YES!” when I understand what you want and the click of your overalls when I’m getting you ready for the day and it’s all too much for one heart to hold.

We have a thing, your father and I, where you do or say something brilliant and we just look at each other. ¬†We don’t even need to gush or praise or say anything at all. ¬†We just look at each other. ¬†Quick. ¬†And then look away. ¬†Because if we look any longer we’ll talk and if we talk it will ruin the moment. ¬†Words aren’t necessary. ¬†Only the ‘flap of a wing’ second where we share the ridiculous joy that is you. ¬†That’s all there is and all there will ever be for me.¬†

I love you.



hey babe (12).











Hey Babe,

You are almost two years old and I can hardly believe it. ¬†You’re a much pickier eater than you used to be and it can be a little frustrating. ¬†Sometimes we offer you five different options and you aren’t happy with any of them. ¬†Fake chicken nuggets are your favorite. ¬†You sometimes eat peanut butter sandwiches, various fruits, raw carrots, organic yogurt only if it’s frozen, goldfish crackers and organic veggie and fruit pouches. ¬†You think cow’s milk is a treat because you only have almond or coconut milk at home. ¬†I know your picky phase won’t last forever so we’re wading through it as patiently as possible. ¬†We ordered Indian food the other night and once again you were thrilled to eat rice and curry. ¬†It’s the funniest thing to me that curry is your one consistent food love since you were six months old.

People ask me how you are all the time and I say, “He’s busy!” ¬†You love to run and jump and dance and climb. ¬†You’ve been to every playground within a mile of our house (which probably amounts to 6 or 7) and you know your way to the one closest to us. ¬†Your father will let you lead the way and he says you have a little routine. ¬†You walk the few houses down to the elementary school, play on the toddler playground, walk past the community garden and play with the metal flowers, head on over to the “big kid” playground and then never want to leave. ¬†We have to bribe you when it’s time to come home.

You say so many words I couldn’t possible list them all and you’re starting to say phrases too which is amazing. ¬†Just as I was typing this you pointed to baby birds on a cartoon and said, “Ohhhh…. cute!” ¬†You have a funny habit of shortening words which always cracks me up. ¬†You say “coz” instead of cozy and sometimes demand “COZ!” which means you want us to tuck you in with a blankie. ¬†You also say “Thank” instead of thank you. ¬†“Water” is one of your funniest words. ¬†It sounds like, “WOOODERRRR” with a long ‘o’. ¬†We also love when you say “help” which was one of your first words and “stuck” which is a new, hilarious addition. ¬†Your knee got stuck in the slats of your crib recently and you started hollering, “STUCKKKKK!” ¬†I ran into your room to find you standing there with your bent knee jammed between two rungs. ¬†I couldn’t shimmy you out so I jumped into your crib with you to straighten your knee and gently tug. ¬†Poor guy! ¬†You weren’t happy about the whole thing but I couldn’t stop laughing because normally you would have said “help” if you needed help. ¬†Instead you practiced your newest word.

You’re still friendly with everyone and there’s not a shy bone in your body. ¬†You make friends quickly and you like everyone you love to be together. ¬†If anyone leaves you’ll scream, “NOOOOO!” ¬†It makes family get-togethers interesting. ¬†Everyone has to sneak out so they don’t upset you. ¬†This past weekend you stayed over with your nanny and we came to get you the next afternoon. ¬†You hadn’t seen either of us in a full day so you came up between where your dad and I were sitting and stood there with one hand on each of us.

You love animals and cute things and often say, “AHHHH!” and put your head on your object of affection. ¬†It could be us or a baby you meet or a stuffed animal. ¬†Recently you started noticing ants outside and you think they’re adorable. ¬†You’ll follow them around and try to get them to crawl on you. ¬†It reminds me of me when I was younger. ¬†I loved animals so much and wanted to bring them all home.

I could tell stories about you all day because you’re constantly making us all laugh and saying or doing new things. ¬†You’re the happiest, funniest, smartest little guy I’ve ever known and we just can’t get over how lucky we are to have you in our world. ¬†You make everything brighter and lighter. ¬†Things are often busy for us right now because your dad and I are both in school full-time.

Your dad started his program over a month ago and quit his job to focus entirely on getting his doctorate. ¬†I work part-time and we split taking care of you with the help of family once a week or so. ¬†It’s getting tougher to juggle everything so we’re going to have someone watch you one or two days a week to help us out. ¬†It’s been really special these past two years getting to be with you as much as we have and we never lose sight of the fact that most people don’t get that opportunity. ¬†You’ve made us certain we want another baby and if it was up to me I would be pregnant now but the time isn’t right yet. ¬†We’ll wait until school is finished for both of us before we add to our family.

Speaking of family – your father proposed to me last month (which actually deserves a blog post of it’s own). ¬†We’re getting married on May 8th of next year in the Greek Gardens. ¬†It’ll be a simple ceremony with family only and a nice meal after to celebrate and then we’re heading to Europe for a week. ¬†I can’t wait and I spend a lot of time thinking about how special it will be to finally become part of the Nelson family who I love more than words. ¬†They’ve been so kind to me from the very beginning and treated me like a daughter. ¬†Your Grandma Nelson used to joke that she would just adopt me if Mat didn’t propose.

In all my days I never thought I could have in-laws as amazing as the Nelsons. ¬†It makes me tear up to think of it. ¬†They’ve taught me so much about love by how they raised their 3 boys and how they love their daughter-in-laws and grandkids. ¬†They’re humble, generous and kind and you are so blessed to have them in your life. ¬†We all are.

This morning I was laying on the couch because you wake up around 6 every morning and say “UP!” which actually means “downstairs”. ¬†You crawled up next to me, laid your head on the pillow and asked, “Coz?” ¬†I pulled the blanket up¬†and told you, “I love you”. ¬†You looked me in the eye, put your arm over me and quietly said,¬†“Hug”.

And there you have it.  The sweetest 23 month old around.

Birth Interview|Carlyn Sennebogen

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so — tell me about yourself? ¬†who are you? ¬†where do you live?
my name is carlyn..I am a wife, a mother of two amazing boys and a teacher..and of course a student of life! :)
where did you give birth & why?
I gave birth at st johns medical centers birthing unit..I wanted to give birth at home,,but when we saw our child had a medical issue during an ultrasound we felt more comfortable being closer to a hospital setting..

what were some things you stressed about during your pregnancy?
honestly, i didnt really stress much aside from the typical annoyances that any husband or partner does around a pregnant woman..but in regards to pregnancy i was most stressed about breaking my tailbone during delivery like I did with my first child.

what were you most in love with regarding your pregnancy?
I was most in love with the growth of my belly,, i loved being challenged physically and enjoyed keeping my body and mind really active. I especially loved feeling the kicks and prods of my full moon baby and his snuggles in my belly.

do you like being pregnant?  how does it feel?
yes,, i am one of those who ‘love’ to be pregnant! ¬†this time around was a lot more challenging but i still loved carrying life. i think it is the most special and amazing experience we as woman can do. To grow and carry life into this world and being soley responsible for his/her journey into life.

was it easy deciding on a dr. or midwife?  how did you go about choosing?
yes, we knew we wanted midwives..i had midwives with my first and after much research into doctors and delivering with doctors i felt much more comfortable and empowered with midwives.

why did you choose the caregiver you chose?
I switched at 14 weeks because the first group of midwives just did not feel right..i chose St Johns midwives because i was referred by a close friend who desired the same as i did in my delivery and they were a small group of woman in a very intimate setting.

was your partner supportive of your choices?
absolutely…my husband comes from a very traditional background and he has been so open to my preferences about birth-he has taken on a whole new perspective once he really started investigating and learning about certain things that seem to happen quite regularly in the medical field. He is a very strong man and completely honors and supports empowering woman to be in their strength.

did you have a birth plan?  why?
this time around not really…i had one that was very lax and very maluable. I learned the first time around that you can plan as much as you want but just as in life, labor and birth have their own plans and you just have to ride the waves.

tell us a bit about how you knew when you were in labor?
Ha,,i laugh when i read this..well I had a feeling from the beginning that i would go early but not 2.5 weeks early..i started having very irregular contractions around¬†9am¬†and didnt really think much of it..i knew i had been nesting for some time but completely ignored it..i decided since i didnt have much to do that day mine as well get my bag ready and get a little done because i was close to my due date..well sure enough the contractions continued and i was in denial..if in fact i was in labor i wanted to enjoy a little ‘me’ time before baby came since i had just stopped working..so i went to the movies..I saw Osage, orange county,,(not the best of movies to see during labor) lol…i remember doing hip circles and timing my contractions,,hoping they would stop but deep down i knew baby was the way!

what was the highlight of your birth?
mmmmmm….pulling my baby out all on my own. the midwives stepped away and i had more or less labored all on my own throughout the day..i told the nurse i had to push and she urged me to push gently but there was not gentle way to push at that time so when i did, Jaspers head came out on the second push and the third contraction i delivered him myself, right onto my belly.. by far the most magical moment of my life.
what was the most difficult part of your birth?
believing that i was in labor..and that there was not way to stop it..in my head that was the only plan i had was to have a whole 2 weeks off to myself..but i only had two days….lol

if you had to describe your birth with only 3 adjectives, which would you choose?
empowering, connected, exciting.

would you do the same things again?  what would you do differently?
the only thing i would do differently is deliver at home. there was no purpose at all of the birthing center. i was much more comfortable at home–also my son was at home and he was with me throughout the day..he rubbed my back and even wanted to get in the tub with me at home..if i was at home he would have been around..he did not want to go with me when i left..so i let him decide that.
if a close friend was pregnant & asked you for advice on birth, what would you tell her?
i would tell her to ride the waves of the contractions and labor..to take it as a journey and to be open to all the possibilities..and to really know the facts. It is my opinion and my understanding that many couples are told things and because they trust fully in the providers that many times are told false things..knowledge is power!

what’s the best thing anyone told you while you were pregnant (about childbirth)?
it is only pain.

what’s the worst advice you received?
hmm, i cant say i really have ever received bad advise..i feel that all advise is something to consider and use as a tool to better your knowledge,,weather it be negative or positive.

what did you feel like immediately after giving birth?
i felt very accomplished, very strong, very proud and of course overwhelmed with joy..it is such an awesome high that lasts for a few hours.

what did you love the most about where you chose to give birth?
the tub..i delivered jasper in water and i loved the huge tub i was in..they had very chilled music playing and fake candles surrounding the tub with the lights dim…it was super intimate and lovely.

when people say “i couldn’t do what you did!” what do you tell them?
yes you can,,i want as many woman to know that they to can have that experience- maybe not for everyone but that they have that possibility. I strongly believe the mind plays a huge roll in the process.

when people say “i don’t think home-birth¬†is safe. ¬†i know someone who had a negative outcome.” what do you say?
i say, ‘i understand’ and listen to them..it does not mean that i have to agree with them, i gently offer what i know of it and leave it up to them to investigate if they so choose.

would you say you ‘took a risk’ in having a home-birth?
well this time as i didnt birth at home, i would say no but even so..i knew when i labored at home when it was time to go by really listening to my body and my doula..i labored more than half of my labor at home and alone,,,in the movies! lol

why do you think everyone has their babies in the hospital (even healthy low-risk moms)?
i think because they are scared,,because it is easier to just do as everyone has been doing,,it takes effort to investigate a home birth and/or natural birth. and bottom line, they feel more comfortable..i hear often times however that they ended up being more uncomfortable by being pushed to doing things they did not want to do.
what do you say to the common comment “i just wouldn’t want to be that one random woman where something happens to me or my baby. ¬†it’s not worth ‘the risk’ (implying you took a risk)”?
again i just nod my head and listen..i know in my heart what i felt comfortable doing and trusting. Home birth or natural is not for everyone and that is okay!

why birth at home?
comfort and being able to choose for yourself and stay connected and in tune with you and baby. after all YOU are the one giving birth-it is your experience to enjoy.

why not the hospital?
i have no qualms about a birthing center, in a hospital setting,  i just feel a hospital prohibits comfort and choice and both of those are essential in a healthy, empowering labor and delivery.
tell us about the baby!
i call him my tribal swimmer..i felt so in tune and connected with him throughout..his name is Jasper Jai Christian..one who bears gifts, victorious one. ¬†He has big beautiful blue eyes—he is super mellow unless of course he needs something. ¬†he is a joy and a blessing to our family..now all we need is a little girl to balance us out! ¬†:)

how are you feeling now?  how long has it been since the birth?
i feel amazing..no tailbone broken,,and i have been doing yoga since 2 days pp. easing into it and getting stronger every day. Baby is 10 weeks old..and big brother Troy is the best big brother we can ask for!!! It has been an awesome adjustment and journey!!
Thank you for sharing!  Any final comments or words of parting wisdom?
My pleasure…not really just to follow your heart and enjoy all the journey has to offer. It is a gift from God to be able to give birth and such a cool freaking thing to do!!! ¬†Thank you for allowing me to take part in this questionnaire.