Grab our Button!

The Friedli Family
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Monday, November 24, 2014

We Communicated...The Button!!

Dakota's accident happened when he was 2 years and 3 months old. A lot of kids aren't SUPER verbal at this age but Dakota man was a talker! He was saying complete sentences at this age and had entered into that super funny talking stage where you never know what might come out! I was LOVING having a 2 year old little boy!!

To go from a VERY verbal child to a COMPLETELY non-verbal child has probably been THE hardest of all the adjustments we have had to make in this house. Not being able to really communicate and understand Dakota is by far harder then having to carry his 38 lbs around. Nothing is more frustrating for Zach and I  AND Dakota, then when Dakota just cries and whines and we can't seem to find the right answer.

Right after Dakota's accident when we returned home we were able to have in-home therapy with a program called Up to 3. We had physical, occupational (hands and fine motor), and speech therapists that would come about once a week. They brought a big round button into our home and attached it to toys that would move or play music when the button was pushed. They were hoping this would entice him to learn to push the button. At that point in time Dakota had pretty much no movement going on so hitting a button just wasn't happening.

Dakota has come a LONG way in his physical movements although I still wouldn't say he has a lot of coordination but he definitely is beginning to have more and more purpose behind his movements.

A couple months ago Dakota was going through a REALLY weird routine at bedtime. Out of nowhere he just started SCREAMING...not crying...SCREAMING when we put him to bed. It was like clockwork. We would lay him down and within 2 minutes he was screaming crying, inconsolable, out of control. When he gets really mad his whole body gets stiff as a board, so even holding him was impossible. It had gone on for a couple weeks and both Zach and I were clueless as to what to do...we had tried EVERYTHING that normally works and had gotten nowhere! For a couple nights playing some church hymns off Pandora worked but then he went right back to screaming.



Zach and I were both SO frustrated! Not sure if these cries were from pain, hunger, uncomfortable, boredom, or just a 6 year old throwing a fit about having to go to bed. When you don't know what it is it is hard to provide the right solution. I can only imagine how frustrated Dakota was as well that we weren't connecting. We all just ended each night upset and frustrated!! Every night I prayed with Dakota and on my own to help know what to do!!!

I went to parent teacher conference around that time and the teacher was telling me about how they were working with the "buttons" in the classroom. They had even had me record my voice talking to Dakota that he could push and listen to at school. As I talked with his teacher...the spirit whispered to my mind...we needed a button for bedtime! I told the teacher the situation and wondered if we could borrow a button to use at home. I had no idea if this idea that had popped into my head would even work but I thought ANYTHING was worth a shot at this point! She made it happen and I recorded on the button, "Mom, I need you!"

I thought maybe just maybe, if  I could practice and practice with Dakota he could learn the power this button could hold for him. Maybe just maybe he could learn to push this button when he needed or wanted us, instead of screaming and crying. I figured it would take days, weeks,  or even months for him to learn the concept behind the button.

The first night I laid the button next to him in bed and pushed it and let him hear it. I explained to him that ANY time he needed something that he could push this button and I would come. I told him when he wakes up in the morning I wanted him to push it so that I would know he was awake and I would come and get him. As I explained it all to him he looked at that red button and I wondered how much he REALLY understood. I practiced with him before I left and helped him bring his hand over and push the button. Then we tucked him into bed and called it a night.

That night he still cried but each time I would go in  I would remind him...you don't need to cry...just push the button...and I would help him push the button. I didn't know if he would ever get it but there was hope in my heart. The next morning he proved me wrong.

6:20 a.m. I hear on the monitor, "Mom, I need you!" I immediately wake up and look at the monitor and I watch Dakota glance at the button. I had a feeling he had "accidentally" hit the button but I didn't care a ran into his room and praised and praised him for pushing the button. He looked up at me and gave me THE SWEETEST grin that said so clearly, "I did it AND it worked!"



6:20 is a little early for him to get up so I changed his diaper like I do and adjusted him in bed and told him it wasn't quite time to get up yet so he needed to try and go back to sleep. I was too excited to sleep, so instead I decided to watch him on the video monitor to see what he would do. I watched the miracle unfold as he worked and worked to roll his little body onto his side and swing and swing his arm over and over until he hit that red button again! I ran into his room again and as soon as I opened the door that same sweet, innocent, proud, angelic smile was on his face like, "I DID IT AGAIN AND IT WORKED!"  I could tell 100% that this kid got it! He understood EVERYTHING that I had told him about this button and he had worked SO hard to make it work!!! I was SO happy, proud, and excited that I had to let him get up out of bed...even if it was 6:30 in the morning.

Since that day...Dakota has become quite the little expert at utilizing his button. He has used his smart little brain some nights to use it as a game. He went through about a 1 week phase of staying up till 11/11:30 at night pushing and pushing the button instead of going to bed...just to get a visit from his mom or dad. Just like all kids he wanted an excuse to stay up and not go to bed. I would even move it farther and farther away from him so that he couldn't press it so easily and he would wiggle and wiggle until he either hit it or knocked it off the bed.  Almost every morning I now wake up to, "Mom, I need you!" instead of crying and it is a beautiful thing...even if the voice I hear is my own voice and not Dakota's...it is communication nonetheless...and I will take it!!

This is just a tiny little step in our communication journey but it is a miracle and proof that this boy understands! It proves that he has SO much to say but that he just needs an avenue with which to say it. It is my hope and prayer that this is only the beginning of a great future ahead!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

6 Months…I Stand In AMAZEMENT

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Navy Jo is 6 months today…SIX MONTHS!!!! I know I’m going to say this EVERY month but I can’t believe how fast time is going and how much she is growing and learning every day!!

Just a few days ago I watched her in her crib on the video monitor roll over, squirm her way over to her binky, grab it, and put it in her mouth. I know that doesn’t sound like much but to me I was in awe!! I think after having a kid with a brain injury…seeing everything he had learned taken from him and watching him take SO long and work SO hard just to relearn how to move his arm to awkwardly hit the ipad or communication button (which I will blog about soon)…the fact that at only 6 months old she can grab something and put it in her mouth sounds INCREDIBLE!!! Every little new thing she does (which is on a regular basis these days) I just watch in amazement. I realize it’s not above and beyond any other 6 month old but to physically be able to watch how fast their little brains learn and their little bodies strengthen on a daily basis is truly miraculous to me!! The brain is SUCH a powerful thing that we so often take for granted.

I probably sound like a crazy person but living with a brain injured child for the last 4 years has OBVIOUSLY changed my perspective a little on things! It has forced me to see ALL the little things that I normally took for granted and TRULY APPRECIATE them! Just this morning as I got up to workout at 4:30…so tired and wanting to crawl back in bed…I said my morning prayer and I thanked with complete sincerity my Heavenly Father for my healthy body and my ability to do the things I enjoy with it and take care of the people I love with it, and I meant it with ALL my heart!!

I stand in amazement as I watch my husband, that although blind, is the MOST talented man I know and is CONSTANTLY doing things that a blind man shouldn't be able to do!! Shoot a pheasant (just the other day),
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draw up TO SCALE our house plan…COMPLETELY on his own, come up with these new products and ALL the details of them, landscape BEAUTIFUL yards for so many people, etc.

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He will kill me for posting this but her seriously just drew stuff this!! I can’t even draw a stick family by a square house let alone a whole house!!

I have learned to never take one day for granted with our beautiful Navy like I once did with Dakota! I marvel and have SO much gratitude for EVERY little thing she does and I am SO thankful for every day that I get to spend with her, for her healthy body, for her brain that is functioning properly, etc. Although I pray EVERY day for her protection and safety…I never know how long my time will be with her or what the future will hold. I am no longer naive to the fact that just because she is perfect and healthy today means this is how it will be forever.

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Story time!


My heart is SO full of love and gratitude these days I often think it might explode!!! Our life is still far from perfect but it is TRULY WONDERFUL!!!! I am SO glad Dakota was willing to sacrifice SO much to teach his poor mom these simple yet powerful things! He has taught his mom and dad how to TRULY “see” and for that I can NEVER repay him! He has taught me what “true” happiness is and because of him my heart is full of “pure joy!” I’m not sure where I would be without this special boy!!!

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SO…back to my Navy girl…since this post is supposed to be all about her!!! (sorry for the sidetrack!)


Like I said, she is CONSTANTLY learning and growing by the minute.
The best words to describe her is alert, curious, happy, smiley, and active!!
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Navy and her 3 cousins…SO fun!!


She still has to ALWAYS be seeing what is going on…never wants to just snuggle!


She wants to grab EVERYTHING in her sight and is rolling and squirming ALL over the floor to get to what she wants. She is starting to get on all fours and I’m afraid she is going to be crawling in no time and I’m not too excited about that!! ;) It will be a lot harder to keep Dakota man safe from her!

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Just taking off her sweet cousin Lola’s headband while kicking Dakota in the face!! ;)


She is still just as happy as ever and is SOOO easy to get to smile…even at strangers and I LOVE that!!!

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Navy and Lola just playin!


She is so busy and active, never wants to sit on your lap she wants to stand…and jump and jump and jump!! If you want her to sit you better have a toy or something to keep her entertained.

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Just playing the piano no big deal!


She is still such an amazing sleeper although she has become a binky girl when she sleeps and will sometimes wake up crying until you give her back her binky. Not sure how I feel about this new habit! Dakota was never a binky fan he just sucked on his blanket so he never woke up for things like that!

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I LOVE looking at the monitor and seeing this sweet face staring at me like… “mom, come get me!”


Her little hair although kinda thinned out and getting lighter, is so long and curly on top! It gets a little crazy some mornings but it is fun!!!
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Crazy hair, don’t care…and no pants! ;)


I am LOVING having a girl and dressing her up!!! She finally fits in her DARLING pencil skirts I LOVE!!!

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Seriously…SO cute! And yes she can mover her legs! ;)


She is becoming more and more aware of Dakota and loves to suck on his hand if it is in her reach although she has to watch out because that same hand will swing over and bonk her on the head! ;)
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My favorite thing now is that Dakota is more into her then ever. He gives her his most handsome smiles daily and although they still aren’t totally interacting and playing together, he still loves to watch her do her thing and still LOVES her kisses!!

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Just tucking Dakota in bed…I think he wanted her to stay!


Not so sure that he loves how she pulls his hair and grabs his face but the fact that he is smiling more and more at her makes me one happy momma!!!


Navy Jo…you are SUCH a blessing to our WHOLE family and we love every little piece of you more then you will ever know!!!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Semi-Happy Halloween

I feel SO far behind in my blog that some days I think I should just give up and quit. I’m still trying to finish up my summer wrap up post and it is getting into winter already!!! Can somebody PLEASE make time FREEZE for SOOO many reasons!!!

I can’t quite let this blog go though…it has been there for me through the thick and thin and has TRULY been my refuge from the storm. It’s my journal, my friend, my history, my happy and sad, it’s connected me to complete strangers that have loved me, listened to me rant and rave, and have cheered and encouraged me and my little family through the most difficult of days. It STILL amazes me EVERY comment that is left that other people still care enough about me and my little family to even take the time to get on here and read about all of our craziness. I STILL have people that tell me they pray for me and my family…and that means SOOO much to me!! Because our battle and trials are ongoing. Every day brings with it it’s own new set of challenges, and although we are handling them MUCH better then we have in the past, I know it is because of ALL the prayers, faith, and support of SO many! We could never have gotten to where we are today without all of you…SO THANK YOU!!!! I am grateful to have had this blog for all these years and for that reason I will keep on going…even if I only get in one post a month! For those of you STELLER people out there who still take the time to read…THANK YOU!!

I am so grateful for Instagram and the new Chat books that help me document the little daily things bit by bit so when I’m so behind on my blog I can still remember it all! ;) (If you don’t have Instagram you need to do it…just for the chatbooks! They are AWESOME!!!)

ANYWAYS…this post is about Halloween…so I better get back to that! ;)

This year I’m not sure why…I wasn’t in the Halloween spirit like I normally am. Maybe it’s because we are in our rental and all of my fun Halloween decorations are in storage and I didn’t feel like taking the time to dig them out and decorate. Whatever it was I was feeling pretty lame and not having A CLUE what to dress the kids up as or  Zach and I! (Not that Zach and I ever take the time to really plan anyways)

We kicked off the season by going to Black Island Farms Pumpkin Patch with the Friedlis. Such a fun place!!! I didn’t get many good pictures unfortuantely! :/

They take you on a tractor ride out to the patch where everyone gets to pick their pumpkin!
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Bunch of cute boys right here!!


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Our little fam!



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Houston taking care of our pumpkins!


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Grammy and Poppy on baby patrol!

There was lots to do there…slides, pig races, petting animals, corn maze! So fun!!
So grateful Grammy and Poppy take the time to create SOOO many memories for us all!!

As far as costumes went this year:


My sister had given me a hand-me down Indian costume for Navy so that was easy.
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Just made her a little headband, bought some moccasins (luckily those are easy to find these days;)), and put a little Indian paint on her sweet face!


But now that I have 2 kids I felt like I had to have the whole matchy matchy costume thing going on! ;) So I was going to have Dakota be an Indian too but then I was running out of time, not talented enough to make one, and too cheap to spend a crap load of money on one so I thought maybe a cowboy (cowboys and Indians…right). BUT my MOST favorite Halloween EVER was the one right before his accident where he was a cowboy Sherriff.

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I still remember that Halloween so well. He was the cutest thing I ever did see!!!

I didn’t want to try and replicate that (mostly for my emotional side) so when my sister-in-law told me I could borrow her son’s Peter Pan costume I thought PERFECT!! Peter Pan and Tiger Lilly! Easy as pie!!!

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Hat’s a little sideways but he is still the CUTEST Peter Pan I ever did see!!

They turned out pretty cute I thought!
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Our attempt to get them both together! (Dakota doesn’t look awkward at all! ;))

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It ended like this! Bahahaha! Pumpkins fell and down they went! Not sure who was more mad! ;)

The day before our family Halloween party Zach and I hadn’t even talked about what were were going to be. Like I said earlier we are pretty cheap so we won’t spend money so we usually have to try and go the creative funny route! We have had some good ones in the past! ;)

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Tampon and period (gross I know), the bra (one of my favs ;)), and of course the old couple!


I wasn’t sure how we could keep up with those of the past but as I was searching online I saw a plug and socket costume you could buy and I thought…we could make that!!!

So…we got a white apron from my awesome friend Jina who just happens to have stuff like this on hand. Grabbed a box that had recently come with medical supplies and went to work. Within an hour of party time we were ready to rock!! ;)
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BOOM! It’s electric!

Of course the Friedli Family Halloween party was rockin like usual!! Never a holiday that goes uncelebrated in this house and I LOVE that!!!
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The whole family minus Bobby!

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The 4 babes!!


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Grammy and Poppy with ALL the grandkids! CRAZINESS!!!


 We played games and ate dinner! Each of the kids got to choose a room and trick or treat to each other in that room. They had a blast!



Halloween day Dakota got to where his costume to school!
He LOVED his speech therapist who was a witch…he laughed at her a lot!
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The cute kids in his class with their spider hats! ;)

Earlier in the week I got to go on a field trip with his class to the Pumpkin Walk in Logan. It is a super cool thing that talented people create…they make these awesome scenes out of pumpkins and gords. I can’t even describe it in words to give it justice!
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One example…Little Rascals

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Anti-bullying one! So funny!


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Dakota and his cute friends…both girls are named Ashley!


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Dakota and Tate


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Dakota and most of his class in front of a Robin Williams tribute.


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I had to take this one for my mom…I Love Lucy fan! We grew up watching this show because it was one of the only shows my mom watched! CLASSIC!

Halloween night we made it to 3 whole houses…grammy and poppy, Greg and Tina (Zach’s longtime neighbors/second parents), and Grandma and Grandpa and Dakota was done!!

We have decided Dakota is like an old man lately with his routine. When it hits 6/630 he is DONE!! He wants to be home, taking his bath, and getting ready for his dinner. If we aren’t he just cries, whines, and cries!! It is not super fun for ANYONE involved!!!

So the real Halloween fun when all the kids are out trick or treating and having a ball…isn’t going to happen for us…at least not at this point! Luckily, Zach and I are used to dealing with not being the “norm.” That would have broken my heart the last few years but I have come to accept and embrace OUR life now! It took time and help from my Savior to be able to see others living “normal” lives and doing “normal” things with their kids to REALLY be okay with it…knowing that my life wasn’t ever going to look like that. My kid isn’t going to be able to be SO excited about a costume…telling me what he wants to be, running up to doors with friends, trying to get as much candy as he can, and having the time of his life. I try to create that for him the best that I can but at the end of the day…he doesn’t care. He didn’t want the candy…he wanted to be at home doing his nightly routine! ;)

And that is okay! ;)

I hope everyone had a HAPPY HALLOWEEEEEEN…whatever it is yours looked like!!!!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Joining His Old Lady!

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Zach finally joined me in the dirty thirty club! We are old! ;) Just kidding 30 is nothing!! We laugh though because we feel MUCH older then 30! ;) Zach joked on his birthday…”I’m 30 going on 78!” I’m getting grey hairs, my eyes are bad ;), my teeth are rotting (he just went to the dentist and had lots of cavities…he inherited bad teeth from his mom’s side! ;)), and I’m going senile (we both forget A LOT!)

Needless to say, even though we feel 78 we are ONLY 30! :/ It’s gonna be a long 50+ or – years ahead of us if we keep going at this rate! ;)

To show Zach how much I REALLY love him I threw him a joint surprise party with his best friend.

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They are such nerds! ;)


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The best part about it is Zach HATES surprises!! Me and my friend Heidi that helped throw the party for her husband too planned minute to win it games to play at the party too. Zach HATES games! What a bum huh…who hates games?! He TOTALLY married the wrong girl cuz I LOVE games…which is why we played them. The real truth is…he has fun playing them when we talk him into it but for some reason to get him to play is SO hard and he has to complain for thirty minutes before we can actually start playing! ;) Then he has fun…although he will never admit it…I can tell! ;) (Is that a total guy thing or just my husband?!)

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I totally tore him up at this game! And no he doesn’t get any freebies for being blind! ;) Maybe if I would let him win sometimes he would like to play! ;) J/K

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Poor birthday boys just got beat!
(Jake and Heidi)

Even though he was COMPLETELY shocked and in disbelief…even as we were driving home he still couldn’t believe I did that…since I know how he feels about surprises…HE DID HAVE FUN!!

Heidi and I kept it pretty low key with just his and Jake’s closest friends.
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We had some yummy dinner, played a few games, but mostly just had fun talking, laughing, and joking!

We threw the party a week before Zach’s birthday and a couple weeks after Jake’s so neither of them had a clue it was coming. It worked beautifully because I am NO GOOD at keeping things from Zach and he can ALWAYS tell when I am lying…so luckily he didn’t drill me before hand or he totally would have known!

The decorations were the funniest part. Heidi and I printed a ton of pictures of Zach and Jake together (mostly all hunting ones since that’s what they do) and had them all around the party. It kinda looked like their wedding reception! ;)

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My sister with her AMAZING shop Salvage Swag (follow her on instagram if you are on there) sent me this killer Happy Birthday banner to use. It is SO cute in person! Not that the boys cared AT ALL about the cuteness! ;)
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Their cake was so cute too! There is this SUPER talented lady here at our Walmart that does cakes like it ain’t no thang! She designed this perfectly for our hunting boys!
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Not that Zach could see the cool details…but I assured him it was SUPER cute! ;)

We had a great time! Thanks to all who came!!!

We celebrated his actual birthday with his family. I didn’t capture any pictures of the party…as Dakota was having a hard night…if you can’t tell from this picture perfect family portrait! Happy Birthday Zach!! ;)
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Happiest family you have ever seen! ;)

We did get a cute one of all the cousins in their Halloween clothes that Grammy and Poppy bought them!
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WoW Babies!!

I feel SOOOO grateful and lucky to get to celebrate my main man! He is my best friend, my confidant, my crush, my baby daddy, my eternal companion, my EVERYTHING!!

He makes me laugh when I want to cry, he gets me and loves every piece of me…the good and the bad, he is THE BEST dad I have ever seen, he is my kind of perfect and I love him with ALL my heart!!!

Happy Birthday Zach!I LOVE YOU!! You make 30 look GOOD!!! ;)