in memory of freyja

Dear Freyja,

It’s hard to think that you’re really gone. It feels like you were here, “wheeking” for your veggies one day, and now, suddenly, you’re missing.

I had noticed that you were starting to get tired just a couple of weeks ago. It seemed like you weren’t as active as you usually were, and I could see some changes happening in your body, too. When guinea pigs start to show their age, they tend to go downhill fast, and you were no exception.

Still, saying goodbye seems shocking and unreal.You have been a best buddy to Kaya, especially for the past year or so. She diligently brought veggies, pellets, and water to you and Claire every evening, and you got to know the sound of her feet on the stairs and the tone of her voice. Just days before you died, you were still excitedly looking for her and your treat when you heard her.

Kaya has been absolutely crushed. You were a huge part of her world, and missing you is her first real experience with grief. It has been painful to watch my own baby cry for you and know that I can’t fix it. She wants you back. I am utterly helpless.

Kaelyn, Nella, and Eve have been sad, too. Eve went to look for you first thing this morning when we told her you had died, and she keeps saying, “I miss Freyja” and “Where’s Freyja?”.

You were always so friendly, so outgoing, and loved being petted and held. You loved your treats. You felt like a special gift to me, because you always reminded me of my very first guinea pig, Maggie, with the way your fur fell over your ears, how confidently you’d walk around the cage, and how chatty you were. In some ways, her memory lived on in you.

We had a little funeral for you this morning. Michael took care of everything logistical, and I was so grateful. We all gathered around to say goodbye. There were so many tears, and everyone had one last look at you before Daddy lowered you gently into your final resting place.

He covered you in a blanket of dirt, and then each of the girls placed a carrot (your favorite treat) on the grave, ultimately creating a heart shape. He filled in the remaining gap with more dirt, and through tears, I choked out a short poem I found online.

We have all loved you so very much. Thank you for all the joy you brought to our family, sweet Freyja.

I hope to plant something beautiful over your grave, so we can remember you every year when the flowers bloom.

Love you forever.

Freyja, July 2015 – July 27, 2021

(written July 28th)

losing our rainbow

You were supposed to be here.

You grew inside my belly for such a short time. I loved you as fiercely as I could while I had you, fearing that our time together could be cut short. Again.

You were going to be our rainbow baby after our early pregnancy loss last November.

I felt both pure joy and absolute terror when the pregnancy tests confirmed you were there. I was afraid of having another loss, like last time. I knew I had to love you and take it day by day, praying and hoping that you wouldn’t leave. I was nervous, but I never actually thought we’d lose you, too.

Having a pregnancy loss is tremendously difficult on so many levels. It’s impossible to cram an entire lifetime of loving someone into such a short time, only to be left with heartache. There are no memories. No ultrasound photos. Nothing.

You were real to me and your Daddy, but no one else. I’ve felt at times like I’ve had to justify my grieving, because no one else knew you even existed. I was afraid of hearing other people say out loud what that harsh, critical voice in my mind has said to me so many times:

It was just so early.
You’re really so fortunate to already have four healthy kids. Why did you push your luck trying for one more?
You’re selfish.
You’re older and worn out now. What did you think was going to happen?
You are broken.

Deep down, I know that none of those things are true. My heart still had a big open space, waiting to be filled with love for another sweet baby. You were not hoped for out of selfishness, but out of love.

We didn’t have long together, but it was long enough to wonder who you would have been. Which of your sisters would you have looked like? Boy or girl? Brunette or blond? Curly hair or straight? Would you have had the same funny little toe that Kaya and Nella both inherited from me? I wish I could have heard your laugh and seen your smile.

It was long enough to put a note under your Daddy’s pillow and surprise him that we would finally be getting our rainbow baby in September. He was happy and sweet. One day, I know I’ll be able to watch that video again without my heart feeling completely shattered.

I had no idea how hard a miscarriage is on a body, even when it’s early. The abrupt hormonal changes had me feeling weak and exhausted, physically and emotionally. It took two weeks until I had a day where I didn’t feel dizzy or like fainting. The weight of it all can seem crushing, at times.

Through all this, I’ve learned that no matter how downtrodden I feel, no matter how dark it may seem, I have to hold on to hope. Without hope, nothing else seems to matter. As one of the new Frozen songs states, “You are gone, hope is lost, but I must go on, and do the next right thing.”

I’m sorry you didn’t get to stay, but I have hope that I will meet you one day on the other side. You won’t have a whole collection of blog posts and letters from me like your sisters do, but you at least deserved this one.

I love you.

jax is gone

I know the blog has been pretty heavy with emotion this week, with all these posts about Kaya’s dog bite. This will be the last one, at least for now.

I just keep thinking that if I finish writing all this, it’ll be easier to keep moving forward.

So… the question that everyone wants to know the answer to: where is Jax?_MG_1760

The day after the bite, we drove him back down to the Bedford Humane Society, where we originally adopted him two years ago. They are a no-kill shelter and promised they would always take him back. He at least has a chance at a new life in a home without children. If we had just turned him over to animal control, a happy ending would have been far-fetched.

We tried to do the right thing for him and for us.

He was never an aggressive dog. Everyone loved and trusted him. The only way I could have imagined the incident happening is that he was asleep, was somehow startled, and thought he needed to defend himself. One week after it happened, Kaya indeed told me that Jax was asleep, she hugged him, and then he bit her.

He made a serious mistake that could have easily been repeated, and there is no way I could risk that with my precious children.

He was a part of the family, and even though he betrayed my trust and did wrong, we are definitely mourning his absence._MG_1173

Kaya asks about him every single day. She still loved him when we said goodbye. I was too angry at the time to even say anything to him.

Now there’s less anger and mostly just sadness.

I lost my running partner. My cuddle buddy. My shadow. My pal.

It hurts to think that I’ll never see him romp through the snow again, give him an empty jar of peanut butter to lick clean, or invite him up onto the bed to snuggle for a nap.

I can only hope he finds those joys with someone else now.

The house is quieter. Lonelier.

I wanted my children to grow up with a dog, and now I don’t know if they ever will. I don’t know what animal I can trust after all this.

Goodbye, Jax. I’m so sad it had to end this way between us._MG_4061

a time for learning

Last week, we attended Grandma Teerlink’s funeral.

I won’t deny that it was an emotional time. It was also, however, a learning experience.

Hearing all the ways that she touched the lives of others inspires me to do more. You’re not going to get anywhere in life if you don’t make the effort.

Witnessing the expressions of love between her and her beloved husband inspires me to be more intentional in my exchange of words and actions with my husband.

Seeing her commitment to living the gospel and creating a strong, close-knit family reminds me that that is my ultimate goal and most divine purpose here on earth.

There were so many touching personal anecdotes that were shared. I’m so very grateful for the opportunity to learn from them.

Afterward, a bunch of us went to Willy’s, a small local ice cream shop. Michael remembers going there often as a kid with his grandparents. We loved having this mini family reunion!


rest in peace, grandma teerlink

Michael’s grandma passed away earlier this week.

Thankfully, we were able to go see her one last time this past weekend. She was so sick, and it was so hard to see her in so much pain. I’m grateful to know that she is now at peace.

Grandma and Grandpa Teerlink welcomed me into the family with open, loving arms. From the moment I met both of them, I felt instantly accepted. That meant so much to me.

She used her talents to bless and help others. She made baby blankets for everyone, and in the past year, even crocheted dresses for baby blessings (like Kaelyn’s). Those things will surely be keepsakes for years to come.

There was always the most delicious homemade bread and jam anytime we stopped at her house. We would even frequently plan our roadtrips so that we’d just happen to be passing through town right around ice cream time on Sunday evenings.

She is the matriarch of a close-knit family and a righteous posterity. Her love, influence, and testimony has truly created a legacy, and I am so grateful to be able to witness it first hand.

We love you Grandma! We know that families are forever and we will see you again someday.



goodbye, scrappy

Today, Michael’s childhood dog had to be put to sleep.IMG_20130420_163920Scrappy was almost 14 years old (which is such a long life for such a big dog)! The whole family loved him so much, especially all the boys. They always counted him as their fourth “brother”.

I don’t have a whole lot to write, other than that he was a good boy. And to a dog, that is the very best thing you can say.


I’m sorry we couldn’t be there to say goodbye, Scrappy, but I thought of you all day long. I’m so glad we got to see you just a couple weeks ago at Christmastime._MG_6467We’ll miss your excited, wagging tail next time we come home to visit, but we will see you again someday._MG_2440

We love you, Scrappadoodledoo.

sometimes, it’s the little things

I know my last post was kind of on the down side, but I’m happy to report that we are all doing so much better than we were a few days ago.

This sick little face is finally back to being herself. We had a couple of rough days and nights, but it really wasn’t so bad.

_MG_0029This week, I’ve really been appreciating the small, meaningful moments. Sure, Kaya didn’t feel well, but that just meant that we got to snuggle and watch a million episodes of Baby Einstein. We even had a family slumber party in the living room at 4 am because she didn’t want to be alone (and being propped up instead of lying flat seemed to help her rest better).

Michael and I had a late dinner date to Wendy’s. We ate in the car while Kaya slept, and the radio played all our favorite songs. It was so fun to do something spontaneous together.

Kaya took a super long nap, and I was so grateful after those late nights and early mornings we had. I took full advantage (and as usual, Jax takes any opportunity he gets to be on the bed and smother me. I actually love that he’s so cuddly).

IMG_20131113_144506 I still miss Juni, but Michael lovingly cleaned up all her things so that I didn’t have to. I’m so thankful for him.

My thoughtful visiting teacher left a treat at my front door just to let me know she cares.

If you know me, you’ve probably seen me wearing Christmas socks all year round. I can’t help it- I just love holiday socks! I was so thrilled to find these (on the right, the ones on the left are from Michael’s Arts and Crafts) for $1 at Target today. Bring on the Christmas season! I also bought sprinkles for decorating gingerbread cookies… I want to do it all now, but Michael is making me wait until Thanksgiving is over!

socks2013collage1I’m so thankful for tiny tender mercies, no matter how trivial some of them might seem. God is good.

sometimes, it’s rough

Let’s face it- on the blog, I mostly write about sunshine, rainbows, and/or unicorns. (Not really, but you get the idea, right?)

Today I’m going to be honest.

Life is hard sometimes.

I know that other people have trials that are so much bigger. So much harder.

But that doesn’t mean that YOUR troubles aren’t significant and sometimes even overwhelming.

We had a crazy weekend. For most of it, I was feeling pretty under the weather. I noticed on Saturday night that my guinea pig, Juni, really wasn’t looking so well. She was still eating, so I kept an eye on her.IMG_1497 [640x480]

When I woke up on Sunday, she was just lying there, barely hanging on to life.

“I think she waited for you”, Michael said.

I agreed.

I spent all morning with her. I stroked her fur, which seemed softer than ever. I told her I loved her. Her breathing became so slow that it was hard to tell exactly when she left us, but I believe it was just before we headed out to church.

This is the first time in almost 8 years I haven’t shared my home with a guinea pig. It’s strange. It feels empty.

We went to church, and suddenly, Kaya started to become lethargic and feverish. She has never been sick before (we have definitely been blessed), so it made me really nervous. We actually left a few minutes early to get her home, take her temperature, and see if she’d nap.

103.4 degrees.

I felt so helpless. She cried and cried and cried. My first instinct is to nurse her, but anytime I’d lay her down, she’d start bawling.

Sometimes (maybe even most of the time), I have no idea what I’m doing as a mom. I’m just making it up as I go along, and sometimes that doesn’t feel good enough.

She was still eating and drinking, so we didn’t take her in to her pediatrician until today. Her doctor said that she has seen a lot of kids lately with fevers that just run for a few days, and that’s all it is. Everything else looks good.

All these events seemed to accumulate into one big avalanche and completely cover me. Add some insomnia and sleep deprivation to our equation… and it made today seem so hard. I’m so thankful for Michael, because without him I would probably be 100 times more irrational and clueless.

I miss Juni. My heart breaks for my sick baby. I’m exhausted. But it’s okay. Life’s meant to be a little rough.

I also burnt our microwave out on Friday. I’m almost laughing at that one now. Almost.

i still miss her

I know most people might skip over this post… because yes, it’s about my guinea pig, Maggie, who passed away five months ago. But honestly… I don’t care if no one else cares. I still miss her. So much. And I feel like I need to write this, at least for myself.

I don’t know how five months of her being gone can feel like the same amount of time as the seven years I got to enjoy her presence. Time can be so cruel.

I loved Maggie so much that one of my greatest fears was waking up one day and finding that she had passed away. One of my favorite things was seeing her happy face and singing “goooood moooorning!” as I went to greet her each day. I was always afraid I wouldn’t get to say goodbye to her before she left me.

Fast forward to 5.5 months ago. I went out to Utah for a week, and Michael took care of my piggies for me. He would send me pictures and updates. We knew that Maggie was really starting to show her age… and once again, I hoped she wouldn’t pass without me being there to say goodbye. I came home from Utah on May 4th.

On May 6th, I found Maggie flipped over on her back, unable to get up on her own. I knew in my heart that she was suffering, and she looked so tired. She had a tumor that seemed to have grown exponentially in a short time, which I’m guessing was some type of ovarian cancer (but I’m no doctor…). I cried so hard as I realized that there wasn’t really a choice. I didn’t want her to endure pain any longer, especially since I had no idea how long she was struggling on her back that way. What if it happened again?

I knew that Lelia was free that morning, so I called her, and through tears, I asked her to go to the vet with me. I’m so thankful that I had my sister there for comfort. I could not have done it alone.

We had a 12 pm appointment. Waiting was the hardest part. I pet her, held her, and talked to her. I told her I was so sorry, probably about a million times. Honestly, I felt like I didn’t do enough for my pigs after I got pregnant and had Kaya. Sure, she had all the necessities and a big cage to run in. I just hope she felt loved.

The vet examined her and agreed that it was time to say goodbye.

Maggie gave me these little kisses on my finger right up until the sedative kicked in. I took a long time petting her and saying my goodbyes. I told the vet I was ready (as ready as you can be to leave your best furry friend forever), and kissed her head one last time. The vet took her to the back room to put her to sleep (since guinea pigs have small veins, they don’t let the owner be there when they do it).

I’m so grateful I had the chance to say goodbye, even though I never expected to have to choose to have her put to sleep. I can still feel her soft fur under my fingertips, hear her happy “wheeeeeks!”, and see the way she used to shuffle around the cage when she was excited for something (usually veggies!).

Maggie, you might not have meant anything to the world, but you were a HUGE part of mine. I keep a picture of you on my nightstand, and there isn’t a day I don’t remember all the joy you brought to my life.

Thanks again, Magamuffin. See you again someday (and I hope you wobble up to me wheeking and looking for a carrot and a scratch on the head).

I still miss you.

I still love you.

friday thoughts

We’ve had quite a crazy week, with just getting back home from my Utah trip, cuddling a teething baby, editing three photoshoots, and saying goodbye to my sweet Maggie. The weather is at least looking a bit more like spring, so we’ve been enjoying more time outside (although 3 of my 4 runs this week were in the RAIN)!

Juni seems to be doing okay without Maggie. They were more like roommates than best friends, after all. The cage just seems so big and quiet now. Juni hasn’t been too excited about her veggies, so she had some parsley this morning as a treat._MG_5629I had a photoshoot with a sweet family from church last night. Kaya and I got there a little early, so I played around with the beautiful lighting while she (re)discovered grass.
_MG_5390 _MG_5393

(and she tried to eat a stick…)_MG_5398

Kaya’s had a bit of a rough week with teething, but the top two front teeth have both finally broken through the gum! She seems more like her normal, happy self today so far. (Although she is going on three hours of napping right now!)
_MG_5633I also forgot how much I love listening to this song. It’s silly, I know, but it is a good reminder of the simple things in life. I’m definitely looking forward to some great family time this weekend!

I still plan to show off all the fun I had in Utah, but I have a TON of photos to go through, so it might take me a little longer than I’d like. Stay tuned and happy weekend! 🙂