losing cali.

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Her absence feels enormous. After over 13 years together, Cali became a part of me. My life revolved around her life. She was woven into my daily world. It’s silly to say she was more than a dog to me, but she was. She was a part of my soul, my first baby, my best friend, the child I couldn’t have for so many years.

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Our sweet Cali girl crossed the rainbow bridge on April 28th and I am painfully aware that my life with never again be the same without her presence. She brought me joy in seasons where infertility stole so much of it away. She was loyal to the end, showing us unconditional love, and quiet acceptance when her world got changed at the arrival of Kirsten and Logan. She was patient with me, put up with so many silly things we’d do, and I hope to never forget the way she smelled like nacho chips.

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Our loss, although necessary as she faced the many challenges of old age, has crippled me. My world has shifted and I miss my 8 pound best friend more than words can say. Grief is exhausting, hiding it even more draining, and if I am being honest, I often wonder if it will ever stop hurting. I wish I could go back to our last day together, cuddle her longer, thank her one last time for being such a good friend. I am alone in a world without her, which for so long was my greatest fear. It’s here I feel like I should apologize for the weight of my words, as she was, as many would say, “just a dog”, but she was more than that to me, and grief is such a personal experience. You may or may not understand, but I want to honor the life she had, the love she gave, the healing she brought me, and allow myself to feel the grief as it takes me.

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For so long, through each miscarriage or failed infertility treatment, Cali was there, providing kisses and snuggles, a gentle balm to a raw and hurting heart. She matched her emotions to mimic mine and together we would pick ourselves back up and get back in the game. We walked, talked, worked, and functioned as we needed to and soon, we learned to cope and focus our energies forward, on the next IVF cycle, or at least, making a plan. And now without her here, and the grief overwhelming, it’s hard to focus on what’s ahead.

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This may all sound morbid. Don’t worry, I am able to function as the mom and (fill in all other roles here) I need to be, but at the end of the night, when I close my eyes, I feel sad. I look over at the paw print the vet took after she passed, and I open and smell the tiny envelope filled with her fur clippings.

Sharing this here is scary, as I don’t want to overdo it and cause concern, however grief can be isolating and there is no shame in being sad when something sad happens.

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I shared this message last week on social media:

Here’s the thing about grief. It’s an unknown beast. It sneaks up on you at the strangest times & leaves you gutted when 5 minutes earlier you were “okay”. It’s not neat. It comes it waves. It can be sorrow filled or anger laden. Sometimes you want to talk about it. Sometimes you don’t. Loss is loss. It could be a dog or a person or a dream. I’m here to remind you today it’s okay to cry. It’s okay if you feel out of control with your tears. It’s okay if you’re still in the denial phase and it’s okay if you feel grief mixed with peace. Your grief is your journey. It’s part of your story. It’s okay if what made you feel better yesterday doesn’t today. It’s okay to muddle through and it’s okay if what you’re grieving isn’t what everyone considers “grief-worthy”. I’ve found the greatest way to honor grief, whether it’s been my miscarriages, or now my best fur baby friend, is by acknowledging it. Validating it’s importance to me. Not being afraid to speak its weight and to let the tears flow when they spring up from nowhere.

This isn’t shared for sympathies or pity, but for the reminder that your grief doesn’t need to be something you’re ashamed of. Let’s carry on as the strong women we are, tears and all.

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Maybe you are going through grief of some kind too. I pray you feel God’s gentle comfort and reminders of His presence as I have. I hope you also know that you can turn to Him with your tears and questions, and even if you don’t get an answer, know He has still heard you and is still with you. He is with us. And He created those we miss – whether it’s Cali, or your child, your parent or your partner. He understands love and longing.

I wanted to share just some of the most helpful and soothing things people have shared with me since her passing, in case you find yourself supporting a friend who has lost their furbaby. The key themes that stand out are validating the pain, sharing in the love and loss, and making the sympathies personal. I also feel so grateful and blessed when others acknowledge our love for her and the joy she experienced being in our family.

  • I hope you know that Cali had the BEST life full of love, and that’s all because of you.
  • Oh Cali Bug, you sure fulfilled your purpose.
  • Your sweet Cali girl touched many hearts. I always looked forward to “her” posts.
  • Cali has been loved by us all for years.
  • i know she was such a steadfast friend to you and your family.
  • I feel like Cali got so many of us through our infertility journeys.
  • (Dog name) will eat a doggie treat in her honor tonight.
  • She let you cry tears into her fur during every heartbreak you experienced and made room for two sweet babies that were prayed for and welcomed into your family.
  • We all have become attached to little Cali. My heart breaks for you.
  • She was so loved and had such a great life and family.
  • I’m am just so SO sorry for this loss…. this little girl was your first baby…. and by your side through so much. My heart is truly broken for you guys… the pain is like no other.
  • I don’t have the right words, but I’m so sorry Chelsea. That hurts the heart so deeply.
  • she will be missed by everyone
  • I 💗 Cali pictures!!!! Always with the little head tilt. She was with you through everything.
  • She was a such a sweetheart. I’ll never forget her sitting on her back to legs next to me like a human at bible study. [such] a good laugh. She had such a sweet personality.
  • I loved Cali’s cameos with your kiddos, the way she played along for special occasion photos and her classic and adorable first day of school pics. I hope you continue to post your memories with her.
  • I’m going to miss seeing her photogenic face 😭 prayers that the loss lessens over time.

Cali girl, Bugsy, Littlest, Teeny Tiny, Puppy, Cali O’Malley, Ms. Otis, Baby Bear … you, my dear first baby, taught me about unconditional love, the importance of afternoon naps, and the beauty of how God provides for us in ways we least expect it. I love you and miss you sweet girl. Run those fields of heaven, chase those squirrels, hide those Dingos, and Momma will see you again soon.

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this is two.

this is 2

This is TWO.

Two is realizing how fast time is going.

Two is watching with amazement at how fast Kirsten and Logan can learn something new.

Two is investigating different things and trying to do everything “faster”.

Two is “luv you”s with genuine joy when they look into our eyes and say it.

Two is tears. A whole lot of them. It’s learning to share, finding out about patience, and practicing what it means to be kind.

Two is splashing in the bath and a whole lot of giggles.

Two is snuggles. Tiny arms wrapped around my neck, squishy fingers touching my cheeks.

Two is learning what they like. Buzz Lightyear. Babies. Veggie Tales. Books. Stacking things and knocking them down. It’s also learning what they don’t like. Carrots. Long car rides. Having to sit down in a cart. Kiwis.

Two is not likely to say goodbye to mom or dad. It’s hearing “mom” 4,502 times a day and even when I am tired, it still makes me melt.

Two is learning to love each other. It’s Logan calling out – “Sis! Come here.” and Kirsten rubbing his back when he’s sad.

Two is learning to bicker and fine tune what drives the other crazy. A stolen pacifier or toy swiped sends one set of feet running in the opposite direction and chaos and hysteria ensues.

Two is fiercely craving independence. Climbing up to their toddler chair with no help wanted. It’s picking out the plate they want to eat lunch on and having a specific opinion on what fork they will (or won’t) use.

Two is singing songs. Itsy Bitsy Spider, Wheels on the Bus, I Had a Little Turtle, and Praise Ye the Lord (Hallelujah) are among your favorites. Two is thinking Hickory Dickory Dock (Simple Songs version) is hilarious and listening to it over and over and over again.

Two is saying “bye bye” to everything. A leaf blowing away, a goose flying overhead, a flushed toilet.

Two is joy. It’s being so proud of how smart they are. It’s being in awe of how little brains learn and adapt so quickly. It’s thinking they are the cutest beings in the whole wide world.

Two is high highs and low lows. It’s adjusting. It’s exhausting, but wonderfully so. It’s a whole lot of asking for forgiveness, saying “I’m sorry”, and kissing boo-boos.

Two is folded hands and asking to “prayers”. It’s listing out our days and thanking God for our blessings, including Shrek, Sully, and Mikey. It’s tightly clinched eyes and erupting in giggles before we get to “amen”. It’s making sure we never forget to pray for our brother or sister.

Two is still trying to find myself as a mom, tightly walking the line of serving my family and taking care of myself.

Two is filled with “no thank you”, “all done”, “’excuse me”, and “mine”.

Sweet littles, I cannot believe you are two. You are the biggest and best joys in your dad and my lives.

Kirsten, you are the most precious little girl we have ever set our eyes on. We chuckle every time you run somewhere, because you love to swing your arms wildly and giggle most of the way.  You love to “get dizzy”, spinning in circles and cackling like you are doing the most adventurous thing in the world. You love to gasp at things you consider shocking, like a book page with a kitty cat near a bath tub. You love watching my reaction to things and always are making sure I am watching you and dad in case you are doing something funny. You thrive on compliments, are brave in new situations, and find yourself comfortable around big groups of people and unknown activities. You love projects. You would sort things all day if you could. You love to unload my grocery bags and hand me each item to put away. You take pride in emptying the dishwasher with me and you find joy in pouring things from one cup to another. You are a caretaker – loving to give your cousin Elijah a bottle or cereal, and will take off running to grab anything he may need, no matter where it is or how awkward it is to carry. You love pizza, so much, just like your daddy. You are spunky, sweet, full of Sissy spice, and I burst when I think about how much I love you.

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Logan, you are my sensitive and darling baby boy. We are in awe of how much you like “typical” boy activities, so different than your sister. She builds and you love to wipe it out. You love to show everyone how fast you run. Around and around the kitchen island you go. “Choo choo! FASTER!” you yell, and you wait for everyone to compliment and ohhh-and-ahhhhh your speed. You love to hide and you think jumping out to scare someone is a real hoot. You are the definition of a mommy’s boy and we have to say “Mommy will always come back” together before being separated for a short time. You will always tell me what snacks you ate as the primary news whenever you are at BSF, MOPS, Sunday School, or gramma’s. You are a gentle spirit, caring and always ready to give hugs. You are cautious, usually watching your sister try something first, and then warming your way into something new. You are funny – so silly – and you think your Daddy is the funniest thing in the world. “Daaadddddy!” you squeal in an exasperated voice every time he does something goofy. You beg me at night to snuggle, and you point to the rocking chair and mold yourself into my neck. You’d live on snacks if you could and every time you drink water, which is often, you act like you’ve been in a desert for a year, gasping for air as you finish the glass. You have a sweet tooth just like your daddy. You are precious, spirited, careful and active and I melt when I think about how sweet you are.

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You two have us wrapped around your fingers. We are buried in love and will never have this parenthood thing all figured out. We are growing and adjusting, settling in and learning to balance the chaos. We love you two so much.

Happy 2ND birthday my loves.



This is life at two. Cheers, chaos, and extraordinary gratitude.