Grab our Button!

The Friedli Family
accident (10) after accident (4) angel (3) baby (1) before accident (26) blind (2) blog (1) brain injury association (2) cutest blog on the block (1) dakota (106) decoration (4) dodawraps (2) donate (2) easter (1) faith (2) family pictures (1) first smile (1) freebie (6) friends (21) fun (19) fundraisor (7) giveaway (8) giving up (4) guest post (1) happy (21) hard times (15) heavenly father (11) help (2) hero (5) his family (29) holiday (42) holidays (8) home (1) horse (3) hospital (8) hunting (3) inventions (2) jesus christ (14) LDS (3) marathon (2) melalueca (1) mom (2) moments (4) mother (4) my family (32) my memories (9) NACD (4) Navy (1) prayers (5) pregnancy (5) prophet (2) Q and A (5) quote (2) running (15) sad (5) school (11) shabby apple (1) simplify (1) song (1) spotlight (1) spray tan (1) temple (4) tessie (44) thankful (18) therapy (20) trach (8) trial (11) trials (3) trust (3) vacation (10) video (13) welcome to holland (1) zach (39)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Looking Back in the Rearview Mirror

rear view mirror

Spring is here as we are all celebrating this warm weather! For our family…with my husband being a landscaper…spring means BUSY!!! Zach officially quite his sales job about a month ago when he realized after being there about 6 months the potential they had talked up in being there just wasn’t there…at least not for many, many years down the road. Even though he was doing very well there (not that he would EVER want me to brag about him…but he was and I’m his wife so I can ;)) he knew that the way the commissions and areas were set up that he would be there a long time before he would even be able to make a decent living. So…he has traded in his polos and slacks for his dirt stained, holy clothes for a another season of landscaping once again until he finds something else! ;)

So this means for me and Dakota…back in the “big” truck as Dakota once called it…hauling Zach, his trailers, and skidsteer to bids and jobs. We spend A LOT of time together in that truck! ;)

Zach went blind when Dakota was just turning 1. So from that point on, our life totally changed and we kicked into survival mode. I became a driver for Zach any time that was needed, to make this landscaping work…which meant Dakota became a passenger. He LOVED being able to ride in Zach’s truck and never minded spending hours a day in there.

This sounds really weird but one of my most FAVORITE views of Dakota was looking back at him in the rear view mirror...maybe because I did it so much!! I don’t know what it was about looking at him in that mirror but it was magical. Dakota ALWAYS looked SO dang cute in that mirror. I always wanted to capture a picture of the way he looked in that mirror but it would never turn out the way I saw him so I have kept that image in my head all these years!! When you looked back at him in that mirror all you could see was his cutest little face with his big eyes, little perfect nose, his blanket usually in his mouth cuz he liked to suck on it…it was just perfection!! When he would catch me looking at him you would see the corner of his little mouth come up along the sides of his blanket and his big eyes squint a little as he smiled…still with that blanket in his mouth! It melted my heart every time!!!! I could look at him all day in that mirror!

After his accident I remember looking back in my rear view mirror at him and just crying!! I didn’t recognize that same kid I once knew anymore. It was different. He looked different, his facial expression was different, his blanket was never in his mouth, he never smiled, he cried a lot in the car and I remember just missing that view SO badly it physically hurt! I still loved him but the view was different and I didn’t think I would ever get to see it again…and it was hard!!!

Well…this spring as we have again spent a lot of time in that big truck together…I now catch myself looking in that rear view mirror and miraculously that perfect view is back!!! When I look at Dakota now…31/2 years after his accident it brings back those same feelings I had before his accident. I see perfection in that face. He looks again like himself and even though he still doesn’t have a blanket in his mouth (which is good since he is 5 ;)) his big beautiful eyes are lit up just the same and his smile is even more magical to look at then it ever was before!!! He has that same happy and content look sitting in the “big” truck and he even smiles again when we ask him if he wants to ride in daddy’s big truck. He hardly ever cries and his face is just content and happy like he used to be riding in the truck. Zach and I both can’t believe how far he has come and how much he has made a full circle back to the boy we once knew!

The progress Dakota is making is still so small and slow and probably not even very noticeable to others but it is SOOOO big and so special to us!! To see even glimpses of his personality and character come back when once it was all lost, is truly a miracle for us and is our source of PURE joy!!!!

I have come to learn that sometimes it takes something being taken away from us to learn to appreciate and enjoy even the simplest and smallest of blessings in life!! I will never ever take that sweet little view for granted again! Thank you Dakota for teaching your mom to stop and take the time to appreciate these small and simple things in life…you are my greatest teacher!!!

Monday, March 24, 2014

BIKE UPDATE…COMPLETELY HUMBLED!!!

I don’t even know how or where to begin to explain what has transpired over the last 48 hours with the bike situation. I sit here COMPLETELY humbled with tears in my eyes…overwhelmed with love and gratitude.

As you all know we have been pushing for weeks now to win Dakota a therapy bike from the Great Bike Giveaway!! I learned about this event from a blog reader/internet friend. ;) At the time she told me about it it had just happened and was a whole year away from happening again. So I put my email in to get notified of the next one and started surfing the web for used or cheaper bikes that maybe we could afford. They were hard to come by since they are few and far between. Back in February I got the email that the giveaway was about to happen again since it is a yearly thing and I jumped for joy thinking…we HAVE to win this for Dakota!!!
I put on my competitive shoes and went to work (I wear them a lot! ;)) I spread the word on my blog, facebook, instagram, texting to ANYONE and EVERYONE I could think of!! And man…I am still in awe at the amount of people that jumped in and went to work right alongside of me. My mom started passing out fliers everywhere she went, my grandma is the emailing and facebook queen, people went from computer to computer on their college campus to vote, my friends have shared and shared and shared, people who I don’t even  know personally have been campaigning from England to Canada to Australia to here for Dakota, and I can’t even count the number of times it was shared on facebook!! I am so overwhelmed by the love of so many who want more then ever to see Dakota win this bike!! I get so many texts a day wondering what place he is in…it is so so so sweet!!!

I want to SINCERELY thank EACH and EVERY one of you for your love and efforts in ours and Dakota’s behalf!!! It has touched our hearts TREMENDOUSLY and thank you is just not even enough!!! Without each and every one of you who has taken the time to vote and share we would never have even had a chance at this!!! As I sit here at this computer with 2 days left of this competition he has 28,252 votes!!!! Who would have thought we would ever get that high? Not me!!! I was so happy when we hit 1,000!!!
20140324_145827


For those of you who have been following closely…he has been  neck and neck with a cute boy named Tristan who I think must have just as big of fan club as Dakota. I never dreamed it would be this hard but it makes me smile to see how much this has meant to so many!!

Well a couple days ago I got a phone call from some of my friends back in AZ whom I haven’t even spoken to in a little while. What they had to say knocked me right off of my chair and brought tears to my eyes.

They don’t want their names mentioned because that is what kind of people they are…but they have asked me to step back from trying to win this competition because they want to get Dakota this bike…not just to help him but to guarantee that cute Tristan will get his bike.They told me as they see more and more kids added to the competition each day they would love to be able to see each kid get a bike but they obviously can’t do that. But by helping Dakota get a bike it guarantees that another kid will for sure win a bike and that other kids will have a better chance.

All they want me to do now is to get each one of you to go and vote for any kid that doesn't have 50 votes yet…so that they are guaranteed an opportunity to get into the raffle to win one of the other bikes. The kindness and genuine care that they have for not just Dakota but all these kids literally has blown me away!!!

I can’t even describe in words the conversations that I have had with them. Of course I denied their VERY generous offer because we didn't enter into this competition for someone else to fork out money for us to have a bike. We were okay with asking people to take 2 seconds to vote for Dakota but not okay for asking for people's money. Both Zach and I struggle with being at the receiving end. It is WAY more fun to be on the giving end. But after two long conversations with both of them and a lot of thought about it…I truly believe that our loving Heavenly Father has blessed them to be in this position to be able to do this for Dakota because He knew what kind of hearts they have. As they sincerely turned to Him in prayer with this desire to want to do this in their heart…He answered them with a yes and ever since they have been “laser focused” (those are their words)on getting Dakota this bike!! It took Zach and I a couple days to soak it all in and humble ourselves to be able to say yes to something so so big!!

The only reason we decided we could…is because if any of you could have listened in on our conversation…you would have felt of this sweet couples sincerity and desire to want to give generously of what they have been blessed with and I know if Zach and I were in the same position to do this for someone else we wouldn’t skip a beat and we would be THRILLED to do this for someone else and would want more then ever for them to say yes! I truly have witnessed a marvelous thing and recognize a loving Heavenly Father’s hand in this. I know that each one of us truly are instruments in His hands and if we are willing to listen and allow Him to guide our lives as this sweet, incredible, and amazing friends of mine have…I know He will be able to use each and every one of us to do SO much good in the world! And it isn’t always about giving money. Sometimes he needs us to just be there for someone else to listen to, hug, or cry with. Sometimes he needs us to serve and just show someone else we love them!! I hope that every person that reads this will be able as touched by this incredible example as we have and become better human beings because of it!!

Matthew 25:40 “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

I still can't even believe this!! I don't even know how to begin to thank them for this!! I just hope that one day Zach and I can continue to pay it forward!!!

So to find and vote for the kids not yet in the raffle go to this link. If a kids box is grey and not green it means they haven’t quite hit 50 yet. Click on their box and nominate them. Again…I can’t thank you all enough for EVERYTHING you have done to get Dakota SO many votes! Thank you thank you!!!!!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

32 Weeks…C-section or VBAC

I have to thank ALL of you who have been voting and sharing to help us win Dakota a bike!!! I was so humbled to see how far and wide this has gone and how many votes our sweet little Dakota has been getting! It means SO much to us that people care enough to want to help!! So thank you, thank you!!!
Unfortunately this has been a lot tougher race then I ever imagined!!! Dakota right now has 6,770 votes…that is a TON!!! He was in the lead yesterday for first place but today he is sitting in third by 600 votes!!! Holy smokes!! This is going to be a tough battle! ;) So…if you haven’t voted or shared with your family and friends please do! We honestly need EVERY vote we can get!!! The contest goes until the 26th so there is still a lot of time to share and vote and keep making a dent!! I shared the link on my facebook and instagram so if you are on either of those and want to share from there that would be awesome too!!! Here is the link once again to vote and share!!

Of course we would LOVE to win this but we will be so happy for whatever kid wins! ;) I kinda felt like my niece and nephew did when my sister showed them the website and all the kids…they said, “I want to vote for all the kids because I want all of them to get a bike!” As I have looked at the pictures of all of the kids in the running I want them all to have a bike too! They are all such angels and so darn cute!! ;)
Anyways…thank you for ALL of your love and support in this!! We can do this!! I won’t give up until it is over!!! ;) You all are the best!!!

So holy smokes this pregnancy is flying by!!!! I don’t know where the time is going because it doesn’t seem to be on my side! I feel completely unprepared for a baby to come in 6-8 weeks! What?! I feel that Navy is much more safe and easier to take care of in my belly so I think she should stay there for awhile longer! ;)

 2014-02-28 18.15.54
30 week pic!

I am beginning to enter into the big and awkward stage! Where every morning when you go to get dressed your like…what in the world am I gonna squeeze into today?!

Snuggling, holding, and carrying Dakota is more and more harder and awkward but still manageable. I just can’t hold him standing up for quite as long. My mom bought me one of those pregnancy support belts…which totally makes me feel like an old lady when I where it but I love it! I think it helps a lot!!!

I am still working out and running although I would call my running more of a fast paced walking speed. I am SOOO slow!!! It kinda drives me insane but I just keep reminding myself I’m carrying a lot more weight it’s ok! ;) I quite bringing my watch cuz I don’t even wanna see how slow I am anymore! ;) The hardest part about running is the feeling of having to pee every half mile!! By the end I’m taking small steps just to keep from peeing my pants!! Then when I finally go to the bathroom hardly anything comes out…it’s just the pressure of this little girl in there!! ;) Good times!!


We just had my our 32 week appointment with the doctor and finally talked to her about the pros and cons of doing a VBAC or C-section.. (A VBAC is just having a vaginal delivery after a c-section…it is kind of complicated) I have been pretty set on wanting to do a VBAC for several reasons. 1. Dakota’s was an emergency c-section due to his high heart rate, not due to me not progressing with labor which means we probably could have had a normal delivery. 2. I want to experience a normal delivery. I want to know what it’s like to have a baby the “right” way. 3. Probably most important to me is the recovery. I actually didn’t mind the recovery after my c-section that much but this time around is much different. I now have a 36 lb 5 year old boy that needs my attention and care and if I had a c-section I wouldn’t be able to lift or carry him for 3 whole weeks instead of 1. Now I know my family will be all over to help and that I won’t have to worry about it but it’s more my desire to want to lift and carry him. Our whole world is going to change when this baby comes and I don’t want him to feel like I don’t want to hold him anymore or anything like that. I’m still his mom and I want to be there for him!!!

So going into the appointment I was all for the VBAC. After talking to my doctor about the pros and cons and risks I am starting to question myself. The risk of the VBAC is that the scar where your c-section is can rupture during labor and tear the placenta. There is only a 4% chance of this happening but of this 4%, if this happens there is a 2% chance that your baby could die or have brain damage. As soon as I heard the words brain damage come out of her mouth my heart sank and that is when I began to doubt. Before Dakota’s accident I probably wouldn’t have batted an eye to those chances but now really knowing what brain damage really is…I look at those percentages A LOT different. They may sound slim to none to most people…but pretty much everything that has happened to our little family the chances of those were probably slim to none. We usually fall on the bad percentage side of things! So I just don’t know if that is a risk I can afford to take!!

Of course there are risks to a c-section too. It is a surgery so any time you do a surgery there are risks. But all of those risks are more to the mother and not the baby and that sounds a lot better to me. Zach on the other hand…doesn’t want any risks on me so he is more for the VBAC but I feel more comfortable with taking the risks then the baby!

It is such a tough decision…one we will obviously be praying a lot about before we decide. But I would LOVE to hear any feedback from any of you if you have any!!! Any good/bad experiences with either?? What you would recommend?? Or maybe what your doctors have told you?!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

PLEASE help us WIN DAKOTA a BIKE!!!!!!

For those of you who have been reading my blog I have talked a little bit about this therapy bike that Dakota gets to use when we go to physical therapy. It is such an AMAZING bike and Dakota absolutely LOVES it! Not only does he smile and enjoy just being a regular kid riding a bike it helps a lot with his range of motion in his legs and helps him relax his legs and get rid of his spasticity. On top of that he gets to build muscle strength in his whole body as he works to hold his head up and push the petals a little bit on his own.

The problem is we only go to therapy twice a month and when he gets to ride the bike it is only for about 30 minutes if that. It is definitely not enough to get to make a big difference. His therapist and doctors have recommended that we get one for him to use at home but the problem is it is $4,000!!! If we had a money tree in our backyard I would be ALL over that bike…but unfortunately my landscaping husband hasn’t planted one of those yet! ;)

But this AMAZING organization called the friendship circle does a bike giveaway ONCE a year and it is happening this month!!! I just entered Dakota and NEED DESPERATELY ANYONE THAT READS THIS TO PLEASE VOTE FOR DAKOTA! The kid with the most votes automatically wins the bike and any other kid with at least 50 votes gets put in a raffle drawing for the remaining bikes.

Seriously…all you have to do is click on this link and their is a big red button that says vote for Dakota. Click it and you are done! It seriously takes 2 seconds!!  That is ALL I’m asking!! And then once you vote then you CAN tell ALL your friends and family about it too so they can vote too! ;) That’s it! The contest closes on the 24th so HURRY!!!!!!!

It would sure make my heart so happy to get to cruise Dakota around the neighborhood with the other kids and let him just be a kid!!!
2013-06-12 10.17.39
Don’t you want to see more of this going on??? How can you say no to this cutest face and that little angel smile?! ;)

THANK YOU!!!!!!!

Friday, February 21, 2014

My Little Smarty Pants!

So I had Dakota’s yearly IEP meeting at the school yesterday. For those of you who don’t have a kid with a special need. IEP is just short for Individualized Education Plan. Any child that is behind in any area…whether cognitive, speech, physical, etc. that meets requirements will have an IEP. It is basically just a plan that you set up with individual goals for your child that those that work with him work on throughout the year.

Well, once a year you meet with ALL of the individuals that work on these goals to talk about how they are doing with the goals and what needs to change. For Dakota he has A LOT of goals and A LOT of people that work with him because he has needs in all areas…physical, fine motor, vision, speech/communication, and cognitive. So the room was filled with about 8 people all there to report on how Dakota is doing this year reaching these goals.

I usually go in expecting not to hear anything that is a big surprise since I see improvements in him too and know about where he is at…BUT this meeting was SOOOO amazing and I wanted to cry as I got to hear each of these people talk about how AMAZING Dakota is doing this year and how smart he is.

Each one of them from the second we started just said that Dakota understands EVERYTHING!! He is so mentally there and with it. This of course makes my day because I believe this with all of my heart but it is hard to describe to other people why I think he does understand when they see a little boy that can’t talk or communicate. To know that they see that in him too and that they treat him like he understands means the world to me!!!
The speech person said at literacy time when they read books a lot of the books have subtle humor in them that the other kids in the class don’t get but Dakota gets it and always laughs! I LOVED that because he does have such a fun sense of humor!

His teacher said he knows all of his shapes and colors. I was SO impressed by this!! She knows this because they have him look at a couple shapes and then tell him to look at a certain one and he almost always gets it right. Now she wants to move on to teach him the alphabet…especially the letters in his name.
As she said this the speech therapist that works with him said “Yes…we want him to learn his letters because I really believe that as he gets older he will be able to use communication devices that allow him to spell out words so that he can communicate with you in messages!”
My little heart skipped a beat to hear that she believes in Dakota and that he will be able to do amazing things like this one day!!!

The physical therapist and occupational therapist all commented on how much stronger Dakota is and how much they see him bringing everything together…body, eye tracking, verbalizing, responding, etc.

But the best part of the whole meeting was hearing each one of them say how much they love Dakota and how happy he makes them! That is the greatest compliment of all!!!

I left that meeting with the BIGGEST smile on my face and the HAPPIEST heart ever!! I’m not the only one who is seeing the progress! It was so great to be in a room filled with so many people who love my little boy and are wanting to help him just as much as I do!!

I was SO proud of Dakota!! He will never be on the honor roll or win a trophy for MVP on a sports team BUT his victories are even more amazing to me then that because I know how hard they are for him! They take a lot of work and a lot of time and they are still small and simple but they are AMAZING!!!!

I LOVE YOU DAKOTA AND I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!!!!
IMG_5998

Monday, February 17, 2014

BEST Valentines Present EVER!!!!

Happy late Valentines to all you lovebirds out there! ;) So Zach and I aren’t usually very big on Valentines' Day. Mostly because our anniversary is January 26th and then my birthday is February 8th (more to come on my big dirty thirty later). So by the time Valentines rolls around we are all out of money and I already feel like I have been spoiled enough. I’m not big into flowers either. Don’t get me wrong…a surprise bouquet of flowers is always so thoughtful and sweet but to get them on the typical Valentines Day, etc. just doesn’t seem quite as thoughtful. I would much rather him spend the money to take me out or buy me something that will last longer then flowers. Zach knows this so he never gets me flowers but yet he always feels guilty for not. ;)

So somewhere along the way…a few weeks prior to Valentines Day…Zach claims we were watching some sappy show like the Bachelor together and I told him I all I wanted was for him to write me a poem for Valentines Day. Now I must have been totally joking or just talking cuz I don’t remember that at all. It could have something to do with this pregnancy brain but I honestly don’t ever remember a conversation happening like that. I do have the worst memory on the planet…which is why I love my blog so much because it helps me remember all the important things! ;)

So when Valentines Day came around Zach came in with this cutest little grin on his face and his hands behind his back and asked me, “what was the one thing you wanted for Valentines Day?” I had NO idea!! I didn’t even know what I wanted for Valentines Day!

He was soooo disappointed I didn’t remember telling him a poem…especially since he had spent 3 weeks racking his brain to write ME my VERY OWN poem! He gave it to me and of course I was TOTALLY shocked and surprised! I could only imagine what funny and cheesy things he had come up with. Zach is more of a funny guy then a romantic sappy kind of guy!

As I started to read it…I realized there was nothing cheesy about it. Zach had somehow turned our whole 7 years into the most beautifully written poem that I have EVER seen!! My eyes were quickly filled with tears and I couldn’t believe how thoughtful, romantic, and meaningful this beautiful poem was!! I was kinda glad I didn’t remember telling him I wanted a poem because it was the best surprise and gift I have truly EVER received!! It will be something I will cherish, read, and hold onto forever!!!

He didn’t want me to share it but I talked him into it since it is such a neat reflection of our crazy 7 years…what we have been through…and how we have made it together!! I know I never could have written anything like this. So here it is!! (No one better dare make fun of him or give him a hard time!! ;))

I LOVE YOU TESSIE!
When i first met you in good old Brookings,
holy crap were you good looking
The most beautiful girl I'd seen in my life,
that's when I knew I would take you to wife,
We quickly married and a boy on the way,
life seemed so perfect, wouldn't you say?
Right when things were going their best,
it seemed right then, we started our test,
I lost my sight, which I knew I would miss,
how could I provide and go on like this?
Without hesitation, without looking back
you quickly jumped in and picked up the slack,
Hauling trailers by day, reading me schoolwork at night,
You're the reason I made it, all without sight.
Far from adjusted, and far from joy,
we then somehow lost our sweet little boy
too much to imagine, let alone bare,
I lost hope for a while, but again you were there,
Making meds by the dozens, new life without rest,
I know he knew then that his mom was the best
you never gave up, and you never gave in,
rather kept on the path and showed me again,
No matter what happens today or tomorrow,
life can be lived without living in sorrow
Patient, persistent, you keep moving on,
I'm glad you'll be with me even after we're gone
I don't understand and I often ask why
I keep chasing my dreams, and from you not a sigh,
From Seymour to Shark Tank and Hardware show,
You make me keep going despite all the NO's!
It's been quite a journey going for my HOME RUN,
but worst case you know, we've had so much fun!
We've come a long ways and Dakota has to,
Soon we'll have Navy, then what will we do?
Not sure how we'll do it with our new Kota man,
All I know that's for sure, is that with YOU we CAN!
Perfect mom, perfect wife, Heavenly Father did send,
I'm so lucky to have you, my eternal best friend!
As you can see I have plenty to say,
why I'm grateful for you on this Valentines Day!
I LOVE YOU TESSIE!


Sure love this guy SOOOO much and couldn’t ask for a better Valentine then him!! He is a keeper!!
2011-11-28 14.28.02

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Life is “HAPPY”

It has been awhile since I wrote just about Dakota man…it is definitely overdue. The best words to describe Dakota and our little life right now is “happy!”
2014-01-15 09.43.05
This new pillow I got for his new big boy room says it perfectly! ;)

I always have the hardest time describing how Dakota is progressing to people because it is tiny and subtle. Probably those who only see him every once in awhile would never even notice any difference at all but for us in our home…we are seeing progress…and that makes us ALL happy!!!

The biggest change is still just subtle progress in his responsiveness, reactions, and communication. He is SO alert and expressive to EVERYTHING around him. He lets you know very easily and quickly these days if he his liking what is going on or not. He whines and cries when he is not liking something or wanting you to do something for him. You can ask him a question while he is whining and most of the time he will stop and look at you or smile if that is what he wants or he will keep whining until you get it right…sometimes you never get it! ;)

2014-02-09 10.16.20

For example…the other night he started crying in bed. I went in and tried to roll him back to the side he had been on (since he had rolled onto his back and it is hard for him to roll in his bed since it is tilted). As soon as I did he started whining so I said “oh you don’t want to lay on that side?” He stopped whining. I rolled him onto the other side and he just gave me the hugest smile ever, like saying, “YES!! Thank you mom!!” This is just one example of the many that are happening more and more often which makes life so much more easier for him and us!!

But honestly his mood is just SO happy and full of life lately and that has made the BIGGEST difference in our little home. I remember after his accident just praying that we would see some of his personality come back in him since there was really nothing there as far as personality for a long time. My prayers have sure been answered! This kid has personality…it is not maybe the exact same personality he had before his accident although I still see some of that same little boy inside…but it is personality and it is there and it is fun!!! He is really just so fun again in a new and different way but we sure love it!!

Even a year after his accident he would smile but not at anything we did. We could be funnier then funny and try and get him to smile and laugh at us but we got nothing. The only thing that could get him to smile was watching Toy Story. This was how we had to take our family pictures to get any smiles.

The whole photo shoot my friend Chelsea was holding this DVD player and the camera to catch him at the parts he would smile.

These days we don't need Toy Story to get a smile out of him. They come so easily and naturally now and that has been one of the hugest blessings to our family!!


Here is a short little video of him just having fun with his cousin Houston.

His sweet spirit and smiles fills our home with complete happiness. It is a happiness that is not just superficial…it is pure joy!! When he is in a happy and playful mood, Zach and I always just stop what we are doing and enjoy it together. I'm sure that if someone was constantly watching us they would think we are a little overly obsessive about our child...but that's ok with me! ;) I guess we are! I love that the trials we have been through have created within us a deeper appreciation for these simple things in life like a smile, that we once took for granted.


With Zach’s new job he doesn't leave so early in the morning, so many mornings Dakota is awake before he leaves and we have time to talk, smile, and pray together before he leaves and it is so simple but yet so wonderful.

2014-01-29 07.38.49
Zach sharing some pears with Dakota before work!!

The other morning Zach said to me, “I am just so happy! Even though life and work are still stressful and we don’t know what the heck we are doing (and Zach is a really stressful person that has a hard time not focusing on problems) just spending these morning together with you and Dakota just makes me so happy!” This made my heart just skip a beat because that is what it is all about!! In the scriptures in 2 Nephi 2:25 it says, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” For a long time we were missing out on that joy as we grieved and mourned the loss of the Dakota man we once had and struggled with this new change.

I remember as clear as day one night, sitting  in bed one night crying (one of many nights) and struggling after Dakota’s accident after months and months of REALLY hard days and nights. I remember wishing SO badly that I could just fast forward life like 10 years! I wanted to feel happiness again and I had a hope that I would…I just couldn’t see how or when that would be. I didn’t get to fast forward life…I had to struggle, learn, and grow every day since but that happiness is back and it is even more “happy” then I have ever felt before!! So to sit here at this computer today and speak of our home being being filled with SO much HAPPINESS, it is truly AMAZING to me!! I honestly thank my Heavenly Father EVERY day for it!!!

Along with all of these most important changes and progress we are seeing, Dakota is getting stronger too! He holds his head and body a lot stronger. He is still progressing at his crawling in therapy although he can’t do it on his own. He LOVES getting the chance to army crawl on his slide to his favorite Lemon Italian Ice. When he gets to the end he just smiles so big and is so proud of himself! I love it! He still stiffens up his entire body a lot…probably more then before. This makes it super hard to hold him because he is so strong and big that it takes all you got to keep him from falling out of your arms. He does it a lot when he is excited or mad. The therapists say that he has learned that that movement has helped him in his rolling and other things so that is why he does it more often. This is also what makes crawling on his own hard for him because he is really good and pushing but getting his leg back up in position is another story.

He is moving his arms a little more coordinated. He will bring his arms and hands up to his toothbrush as you brush his teeth and things like that. I would LOVE to see him be able to use his hands to grab things. I think that would make life a lot more enjoyable for him and he would be more capable of doing so much more.

As far as his trach goes, he is still needing suctioning at least 3-4 times a day so we aren't really making much progress towards getting that out. He coughs really strong and good but still doesn’t seem to clear our his airway all the way. He has actually started to really enjoy getting suctioned and will smile many times when you ask him if he wants one and when you are doing it because I’m sure it makes him feel so much better to breathe better. Not sure if that is a good thing though since we want him to not need suctioning. But we are okay with the trach. When he first got it is was such a new and weird thing for us. It was a foreign object coming out of our little boys neck. It looked weird, sounded weird, and was scary! Now that we are used to it, it has become a part of him and we no longer feel this sense of urgency to get it out. Of course if he does get it out one day we would be so happy, more for the fact that it means he has progressed but if he never does it will be ok too!! It is his cute little “necklace” as some people call it! ;)

About a month or so ago he got his first loose tooth!! It was kinda my fault though so not sure if that really counts as a first! I was flossing his little teeth with one of those floss picks and he all the sudden bit down on it and it cut his gum right next to he bottom middle tooth pretty bad. I felt SOOOOO bad as he cried and blood was pouring out! I was just trying to be a good mom and get his teeth cleaned!!!
After that his tooth was super sensitive and he didn’t want anything to do with tastes. The times we could get him to try some baby food he would bite down on the spoon and it would make his gum bleed and he would cry. One day at church he bit on a succor and his tooth just got really loose. From there on out it was getting looser and looser. When we took him to the dentist for his cleaning the bottom middle two were both loose so the dentist decided to pull them.
I was so scared and sad for him but he didn’t even make a peep!! He was MUCH braver then me!!!
2014-01-14 15.54.27
Getting ready!!

When the dentist got done he said, “well I got 3.” I was a little confused on why the 3rd had to come but well it was already gone so what the heck! Dakota just has a huge gap now in the bottom which you don’t see unless you pull his lip down. It sure makes him seem like such a big boy though!!
2014-01-14 18.28.28
All gone!!

He got his first visit from the tooth fairy and got 3 whole dollars!!!
2014-01-14 20.51.40
Holding his treasure box with his teeth in it, getting ready to take it to his bed! ;)

2014-01-15 09.18.51
Morning time! Looks super excited! ;) Not sure that he really cared about the money but I think he was glad to have that sensitive tooth out of his mouth!


2014-01-14 20.50.58
Hooray they are gone!!!

He is still LOVING school and all of his cute friends!
PicsArt_1389738038135
I mean seriously who wouldn’t love school when you get to swing in a hammock swing and ride scooters down the hallway! Sign me up! ;)

He loves the bus rides and can be crying all the way to the bus and as soon as he gets on he is just fine. He loves to look out the window. He seriously has the cutest bus drivers in the whole world. I love them to pieces!! I will be so sad when this school year ends and he moves to a new school and maybe with new bus drivers! :(

I think that about sums Dakota man up for awhile. If I ever leave anything out that you would like to know please leave me a question in the comments and I will be happy to answer!