Closing Out 2011


To say that this year has been eventful is an understatement. I know we may not lead the most thrilling or glamorous life, but it’s the only life we have, and I do believe it’s a good one with lots of interesting things happening here and there…

We started off the year in Florida on vacation, celebrated the big 1 for Declan and said goodbye to our very faithful canine companion the Berkeley. We’re ending 2011 at home as a cozy family, a very active, generally happy, still growing like a weed Little Man and  our newest fur-kid Dougal the Soft-Coated Wheater Terrier. And a lot has occurred in the in-between.


Here’s a short list of some the things Dex has accomplished in his second year of life:

  • increased his sign language vocabulary (even though several words are modified)
  • learned to catch just about any size ball with both hands a majority of the time – the kid has great hands for catching a football AND strongly developing his jump shot
  • opening various types of latches, thanks to his Melissa & Doug Latches Board (and much to my embarrassment in public restrooms)
  • how to climb almost anything, with a sense of safety and a great display of balance & strength
  • of course eat with a spoon, but it’s a major accomplishment still
  • and as only befitting our boy, Dex has learned how to start his videos on an Android tablet. We’re definitely not ready for his own iPad (especially since mommy doesn’t have one), but his tablet has saved many anxious moments at the doctor’s office, at restaurants, and the ears of babysitters.

Valley Forge

Other highlights from 2011:

  • Dex & I survived a plane trip to Florida in May to visit my parents for 2 weeks
  • Dougal officially joined our family in August. even though having an toddler and a puppy simultaneously seems crazy, it works for us
  • A diagnosis of L4-L5 extreme disc herniation w/ central stenosis in September
  • Several rounds of physical therapy & 2 epidural spinal injections to fix my back. (Now I get to add Lumbar Selective Nerve Root Block to my health records)
  • A very long road trip to Pennsylvania for a cousin’s wedding in The Poconos and a few days touring around Philadelphia in October

All this and more in our very full & busy life.  This list doesn’t even include what’s happening at work. Which just adds to the fray that is our life.  With all that has happened so far, we are looking forward to what 2012 has in store for these Morningstars.





Oh The Berkeley…

the berkeley

Friday, January 14, 2011 just after noon, our faithful beloved Berkeley was laid to rest. He has been such a integral part of our life for so long, it’ll take some time to transition without him.

Berkeley first entered my life in January 1996. This month would have marked 15 years together. as it is, he managed 1 full year with a growing baby boy, and that was an amazing achievement for him.

baby berkeleyHis first few years were a bit rough. He refused to be potty trained or obedient. Just a cute, fluffy ball of craziness. but oh how we cuddled his way into so many lives.

berkie and rockythen he met Jon. and his life changed forever. actually, he met Jon’s parents’ dog Rocky who helped bring him into line. for almost 8 yrs those dogs were the bestest of friends. The Berkeley and his big uncle Rocky. though seriously having Jon as his alpha male turned Berkeley into one of the greatest dogs. although he was my dog, somehow Jon was his favorite human. so not fair.

The Berkeley lived a very full, happy life. and touched the lives of so many of our friends, family and neighbors. As much as he could, the Berkeley went everywhere with us. and he loved it. so did I.

Some of you know that we struggled with infertility for several years before starting the adoption journey that led us to Declan. Along the way, the Berkeley became our first child. yes, we know he’s just a dog. but as much love, attention and devotion that went into taking care of this dog, he felt more like a kid to us. late nights with sicknesses. doctors appointments. schedules. and lots of quality time. if anything, the Berkeley helped us be more prepared for Dex. if we could handle the strangeness of some of his conditions or some of his annoying tendencies, then we could just about handle anything.

Sad BerkeleyI readily admit I babied him. He slept on our bed. He got the comfiest corners in the couch with the warmest blankets. He went on car rides frequently. He went to work with me, when possible. He was coddled when he didn’t feel good. and since Dex, he ate all the kid’s leftovers and throwdowns – pretty good eating, trust me.

After nearly 12 years as a family, it’s going to be incredibly hard to adjust to life without him. Putting away his stuff (beds, blankets, dishes, clothes, toys, etc) is difficult. and there’s still traces of him wherever I look. if not a long tail hair, then a random thing that was his that we haven’t moved out of the way. Not having to let him out the back door feels funny. Coming home to an empty house is haunting. and sitting alone in the living room after everyone else goes to bed is so lonesome.

He was my constant companion. and I am forever grateful that God blessed us with a dog who suited our life and who really felt like part of the family. His temperment, his personality, his preferences really worked with and for us. and that’s hard to do with pets.

laptop dogSo many of our friends & family have shared their condolences for our loss.  we know many of you were touched by him as well. and you have your own special memories of him. Thank you for being a part of his life as well.


For those who might want to know, since April of 2010, the Berkeley suffered from kidney failure. We were told it could anywhere from 2 weeks to a couple of months before he passed. considering the condition of his kidneys. He lived an additional 8 ½ months. Funny creature. So we knew the end of his life was near. But you’re never completely prepared for it. During our last week in Florida, he did seem to be eating less and sleeping more. The marked change in his behavior would have been late Wednesday afternoon, when he wouldn’t even drink water or want to eat. when we finally got home that night, he just wanted to cuddle and sleep. He still had control of his legs, but he wouldn’t eat and barely drank. by Thursday night, his body was shutting down. around midnight, I looked in his eyes as he whimpered a little and knew it was time. He was done, and he let me know. so Friday morning, Jon called the vet to make an appointment to give him the peace he needed. I stayed awake Thursday night – Friday morning to comfort him, switch positions to ease his pains, help him go potty, and just to hold him close.

I am so thankful that I was able to be with him during his last days. That I could hold him close to say my goodbyes. and I am thankful that his actual suffering wasn’t long or overly painful. and that he waited until we got home from vacation to say goodbye to us. and that he made it through the night so I didn’t have to see him go. I really really really loved this dog. and in his own peculiar way, I know he loved me.

the berkeleyAfter so many years together, so many memories, so many habits, it will take me a long time to grieve. but i wouldn’t change the life that we had with him. Thank you Berkeley for 15 wonderful years.

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