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

1150830_625557854144896_1664302985_n 1902988_742705642430116_8838092958077498425_n
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.

hey babe (11).






Hey babe.

You will be 21 months old on May 4th. ¬†Something has happened over the past month or two. ¬†It’s as though you’ve leapt forward developmentally and are suddenly a full-blown little kid and no longer a baby. ¬†I still call you baby though. ¬†I’ll always call you baby. ¬†“Careful! ¬†Don’t knock the baby over!” ¬†“What’s wrong, baby?” ¬†“Baby, are you tired?”

You run, you jump, you dance, you climb and you hold our hands. ¬†You took your Dad’s hand the other day and walked him all the way to the park. ¬†You’re extremely fond of Ella’s Organic fruit and veggie baby food pouches despite my early attempts to steer clear and you love goldfish, the library, slides and swings, sticks, rocks (I just taught you how to say rocks last week!), eggs (you call them “edds!”), reading books, bubbles, bath time, building towers out of anything you can find and sidewalk chalk. ¬†Basically you’re as cute as it gets these days.

Your words are starting to come more and more each day. ¬†You play ‘hide and seek’ with us by hiding behind couch cushions, pillows and chairs. ¬†We say, “Mooooosessssss! ¬†Mossssessss! ¬†Where did Mo go?” until you giggle hysterically and pop up. ¬†You then say to us, “Mo go! ¬†Mo go!” or “MoZZZis!” when you want us to keep playing. ¬†We’re pretty sure you think “Mo go” and “Mozis”¬†are the names of the game.

You sleep through the night well now for the most part and that helps a lot. ¬†When we go on vacation or when you’re sick or teething it throws you off a bit but we get back on track eventually. ¬†We’re starting to think about potty training and as we approach the two year mark we’ve been talking about sending you to “school” in the fall. ¬†I visited Ruffing Montessori yesterday morning and loved it. ¬†I’m working on your application so we can put you on the wait list because I think you would love the teachers and kids there and it’s walking distance from our house.

Your Dad is finishing up his last week of work at the hospital and then he’ll be starting school full-time at Youngstown State! ¬†Three years of physical therapy school will be a wild ride for all of us I’m sure but it’s a huge step towards our long-term goals of owning a business, living on a farm and having a sibling or two for you perhaps. ¬†I go back and forth on that last goal. ¬†Some days I think I HAVE to have another baby because howcouldinot??? ¬†And then, on other days, I think you’re all that we need and things are great with us as a trio. ¬†Either way it will be as it’s meant to be.

I’ve been working at Cleveland Yoga more since the start of the year and I’m now in the eighth month of my program at Malone. ¬†I’ll be finished in November. ¬†It’s going well for the most part but I’ll be happy when it’s over. ¬†The courses are one at a time for five weeks a piece and they’re very intensive. ¬†I study at night after you’re asleep. ¬†The things I’m learning about business and leadership are valuable and interesting but it can be time consuming and difficult when I’ve already spent the day with you or worked at Cleveland Yoga and I’m tired. ¬†I’m keeping my eyes on the prize. ¬†Long-term thinking has never been a strong suit for me but I’m changing all of that. ¬†It’s a growing experience and it’s not easy but nothing worth having is easy, as they say.

It’s been a very long, hard winter and though that kind of makes me sound like a homesteader – it’s true. ¬†Cleveland has been anxiously awaiting warmer days and I think they’re finally here. ¬†We’ve worn shorts a couple of times over the past week and we’re excited to go on vacation with the entire Nelson clan in two weeks to Florida. ¬†I’m hoping this summer is filled with long days in the backyard and at the beach. ¬†You love playing outside and never want to come in. ¬†You’ll gather river rocks in a bucket from the driveway and carry them around or find a big stick in the plant beds and run around the yard with it. ¬†It doesn’t take a whole lot to make you happy. ¬†By the end of the day when we bring you inside you’re covered in mud with skinned knees and you’re crying because you’re so angry at us for putting an end to your fun.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about relationships. ¬†The ups and the downs. ¬†As I was driving home from work last night I was struck by how grateful I am that even as life dips and lifts and twirls, I get to come home to you. ¬†And to your Dad. ¬†And to our home that we’ve built together. ¬†The sun was shining really bright this week-end and the front door was open so it spilled onto the tile in the foyer and and even though there’s no ‘welcome’ mat there it was such a welcoming moment. ¬†I was just looking at the tile and the sun in that entrance and thinking about how much I love to come home. ¬†How much I love this place. ¬†This life. ¬†This family.

The world spins around us but we are always grounded in each other.  We have highs and we have lows.  We go to battle and we sign peace treaties.  We are the strongest, steeliest armor and we are the most terrifying vulnerability.  We are the darkness in this world and we are the light that heals the world.  We are all of that.

Sitting on the couch with your Dad last night Рhe on one end and me on the other Рtalking over things both emotional and heavy and then ending in lightness and laughter РI am reminded again of that great lesson I learn from my yoga mat:  Everything eventually passes.  You just have to hold on and breathe.  There is suffering in the attachment to one end of the spectrum or the other.  There is peace in the trusting acceptance of whatever comes and whatever goes.

Carlo Levi once wrote, “The future has an ancient heart”. ¬†No matter how old I get or how much I go through in life I am always still the product of my childhood self. ¬†I am a woman and a mother and an adult member of our society who has places within her heart which are still naming tiny tadpoles found in forest streams and writing fragmented poetry in journals decorated with rainbows. ¬†That child was wonderful and of course, wildy ‘child-like’. ¬†Unfortunately, she doesn’t stay back there in the 1980’s and 1990’s. ¬†She lives with me every day. ¬†Sometimes she stomps her feet and throws a tantrum when she doesn’t get her way. ¬†Sometimes she gets emotional over irrational things. ¬†Sometimes she clings to fairytale dreams and forgets they are fairytale dreams. ¬†Putting her in her place is the work I am up to.

There’s something about being a mother that slaps you across the face. ¬†It’s a bucket of cold water poured right over your head before you’ve even had a chance to open your eyes in the morning. ¬†It’s glorious and disarming and unrepentant. ¬†It wraps me up in a thousand ropes so that sometimes I feel as though I cannot move and then within the next breath it unravels so completely that I feel as though I’ve been reborn.

You, my bright-eyed and curious kitten, are the catalyst for every awakened moment I experience these days.  Your love and your light and your personhood are teaching me how to be a mother.  Teaching me how to be a partner.  Teaching me how to trust myself.  Love myself.  Be loyal to myself (as a student recently taught me).  You are the one who continuously inspires my evolution as I shake off old and tired ways of being in exchange for the radical possibility of living in the now.

In child’s pose and half pigeon and even in warrior II sometimes I find myself flipping my palms upward. ¬†Hands open to receive. ¬†It’s so natural for me to turn my hands to the floor. ¬†So natural to close my fists. ¬†To clench. ¬†To tighten. ¬†To protect. ¬†You – and your father too – have taught me the power of an open hand. ¬†A vulnerable posture. ¬†A willing and receptive energy that says yes instead of no and “I’ll stay” instead of “I’ll go”.

Words always escape me as I end these letters because I want to sign off with unending gratitude and love beyond measure but it always feels trite in the face of my total devotion to you. ¬†You’ve eclipsed everything unworthy of our time and completely lit up everything that is.

For that kind of generosity, my love… ¬†there are no words.