Friday, November 27, 2015

5 Years an Angel: Finding Joy in the Journey

I have OBVIOUSLY been neglecting this blog, much to my dismay!! There is SOOO many things I have wanted to sit down and write about (Dakota's killer Halloween costume Zach built, Navy is 18 months, how I randomly decided to become a permanent makeup artist, Zach's new Germavoid product we are working on, and life) mostly for my own memory. But life has been CRAZIER then ever lately and there has not been enough time in ANY day to be honest!! It is a good crazy though so I can't complain!!

It is 2:30 A.M. I'm MORE then tired. It has been a long but great Thanksgiving surrounded by our wonderful family we love BUT I couldn't lay my head on my pillow tonight without dedicating a post to sweet Dakota...because let's face it...this is really HIS blog, not mine!! Any that still read this read it because of HIM...because of the SWEET, SWEET spirit they feel through each picture and post that he is in. It ALWAYS amazes me at how even through a simple picture people can feel what I feel in his presence. It is AMAZING. So for him...I post!

5 years ago our lives were changed!! I thought for the worst. I relived that day yesterday as we had Dakota's quarterly check up at Primary Children's Hospital. They built a new outpatient wing, separate but connected to the hospital recently, so we rarely walk the same halls we once did. But this particular appointment they told me he could get a flu shot while we were there but we would have to walk over to the pharmacy connected to the hospital. No big deal!! But on this particular night as we approached his 5 year anniversary the next day...being in those same halls, eating the same cafeteria food, it was different. I allowed myself to relive those dark, difficult, and life changing days. I observed my surroundings and watched the people, staff and parents. My heart ached as I watched a dad walk in with his pillow and suitcase, the woman carrying in a large ziploc baggy full of breast milk. I ached that they would be spending their Thanksgiving a hospital. I longed to stop them, hug them, and tell them to NEVER give up!! That the light WILL come and there will be GREAT blessings and happiness ahead. Your future REALLY is as bright as your faith as President Monson has said!!

I didn't as I'm sure they would have thought I was a crazy lady and called security on me!!

But my message tonight is just that!! I have learned A LOT of life changing things over these past 5-6 years from Zach's blindness to Dakota's accident to now. I am a COMPLETELY different Tessie Friedli then I once was. My life was changed, my perspective is different, and my focus is forever better...thanks to my dang trials that I wished had NEVER come as I was living through them.

I have been asked to speak at several different types of settings..woman, young woman, and youth over the past few years. Public speaking is NOT my favorite thing...AT ALL!! But I have never said no, (except once only because it was soon after Navy would be born) because I feel that if I can help just 1 person in my lifetime through their life and trials then ALL of the sleepless nights, tears, and heartache I have experienced is not in vain. Helping others is what gives purpose to the madness. EVERY time I speak my own testimony of EVERYTHING I have learned and gained through my challenges are strengthened and I am reminded over and over how important the lessons I have learned truly are!!

Each time I have been asked to speak the focus/topic has always been a little different although each time they want me to share my story...because let's face it...I AM my story!! It has defined who I am. Just a couple weeks ago I spoke to a group of Young Woman. They asked me to share about Finding Joy in the Journey. Tonight as I sit here on this 5 year anniversary I want to share what I shared with them because EACH and EVERY person on this entire planet will experience pain, heartache, and sadness. It is part of our earthly experience. I don't know what it will look like for each person...but I can promise it will come. But the great thing is not our life experiences that define is what we CHOOSE to do with them that determine who we are and how happy we can be!! No matter what has happened in your past, what you are facing now, or what your future holds...YOU get to decide whether your story has a happy one else can!!! honor of Dakota...Here is what I shared in hopes that whoever may read this can learn to find JOY in their Journey because as I LOVE to say, "Life Doesn't Have to be Perfect to be Wonderful!"

At the end of this post I made a slideshow of OUR story to date. I am not a technologically advanced person so I won't tell you how many hours it took me to do this! LOL!! But it represents our story, our fight. I chose to do it to the Fight Song because I feel like life is a fight at times...sometimes we are winning and sometimes we are down. I LOVE this song and so does my whole family!! We blast it in our home or in the car and Zach and I sing like we are on stage, Dakota smiles, Navy dances and then as soon as it ends she says "GO!" (which means play it again.) So ENJOY and keep on fighting!!


Tonight they asked me to talk about how I have found joy in MY journey!! I have been pondering this thought and I feel like our lives, our journey, is broken up in to a 3 sequence story!!

First sequence of our story involves our pre-earth life…when we were just cute little spirits flying around naked without a body to clothe us!! The second sequence to that story is the here and now…our Earth life. The last sequence of our story is our return home back into the presence of our loving Heavenly Father!!! It’s a book that we can’t even comprehend because we have NEVER experienced, read or seen anything like it!!

I don’t know for sure what it was like in the first sequence but I can imagine our Heavenly Father sitting down with us and preparing us for the 2nd sequence. Telling us what might happen in each chapter. I’m sure he explained to us that it was going to be REALLY hard at times but that He would ALWAYS be with us to help us through. I can imagine Him taking the time to explain that this was THE MOST important sequence to be written because we would be the co-authors of this story. We would make choices that would determine how this book would end and what the last sequence would entail. I can only imagine how many time He probably told us to REMEMBER who we are!! Reminding us of who He created us to become and how important, valued, and special we were and telling us HOW BADLY he wanted us to return back to live with Him again!! The feeling we must have felt as we left His presence and came to earth I’m sure was pretty powerful!!

So here we are!! Each one of us at different points in our story. Have we ALREADY forgotten who we are, where we came from, and why we are here??? I hope not! I hope that you will NEVER forget that!!
You girls are still at the beginning of your stories… with SO much yet to be written. SO many choices and decision to make…and so many unexpected surprises along the way. I’m about 32 years into my story and I can tell you…It has been quite the duesy!! Trust me…you will want to read this!!! It is better then any scary movie or reality show you have EVER seen!! I’m thinking I should get my own show…keeping up with the Friedlis. I’m totally kidding…kind of!!!

But I started off chapter 18…leaving YW and out into the big wide world. I was ready for this new and exciting chapter in my book!! I had a whole rough draft already written in my head of EXACTLY the way that I thought it should and would go! I was going to meet my handsome returned missionary prince charming, get married in the temple, have 5 or 6 beautiful and amazing babies, live in a big beautiful white picket fence house, and be THE WORLDS BEST mom and wife EVERY day!! My happy ending looked good!!!!! Now don’t raise your hand…but how many of you have your rough draft all perfectly written like me, ready to send to the printer for a final draft?!

Well don’t hit print because guess what?! We don’t ALWAYS get to choose what happens in each chapter!!!! Your life will never go exactly the way you had planned. If it does…I want you to find me because I will probably want your autograph or take a picture with you or SOMETHING!!!

I do have to brag…I DID get to meet my handsome prince charming and I DO have 2 BEAUTIFUL children BUT that is about all that got printed in my book! There was A LOT of editing to be done between all the lines!!!

My handsome husband and I got married in January 2007 in the beautiful Mesa, AZ temple. This was THE BEST and MOST important decision I have EVER made in my WHOLE life!!  I can’t stress to you girls enough how important that decision of who to marry is. It doesn’t just affect you, it affects your family, your children, and your future posterity. It will affect EVERY chapter of your book so make that decision with LOTS of prayer and DON’T COMPROMISE your standards!
We gave birth to our sweet son Dakota in August of 2008. I was a stay at home mom and he was running his own landscaping company and going to school. Life was good…although I didn’t realize how good it really was at the time.
In August of 2009 just a short week before our darling boy was going to turn 1… My husband was driving to work and realized cars were passing him on left side and he wasn't seeing them till they were in front of him. He had already lost complete sight in his right eye at the age of 15 so he knew this was not a good sign. We went immediately into the eye doctor and they told him that it wasn't looking good. His optic nerve was swelling and if they didn't stop it he would lose his sight in his only good eye.

We spent the next 3 weeks in the hospital as the doctors did everything they could to stop the swelling and save his sight.
Now I can tell you right now…this was NOT part of my rough draft plan!! We were scared to death!! My husband and I spent every second of every hour PLEADING to the Lord to grant us a miracle. I had read lots of scriptures of how Jesus had healed the blind man and I thought…why not this blind man?! HE is a good of man as any!! He has kept the commandments, he is temple worthy, he DESERVES this miracle.

As many times as we prayed and as much faith as we had…he still woke up EVERY morning seeing less and less until he was pronounced legally blind and could no longer see mine or my son’s face but just the shadowy outlines of our bodies.
This was devastating!!
I learned the hardest lesson I had EVER learned at this point in life...that sometimes no matter how much faith we have or how many times we pray to get the answer we so desperately think is right...Heavenly Father is truly the one that knows what is best for us! He sees the end from the beginning. He knows us inside and out! This is why he is the co-author of our life! He gets to add in sections to our book that we don’t always think should be there because we don’t know how it ends!!

Life got REALLY complicated for us as you can imagine. Life from that point on was different and it was hard. But together and with the support of friends, family, ward members, and most importantly our Savior we were learning to “get by.” I was helping him with his school work, miraculously he was still landscaping although it was far from easy.

About 1 year later our story took another turn for the worse!

In November of 2010 our son Dakota who was now 2 at the time, was outside playing at my parents house in AZ with his cousins. There were lots of family and friends inside and out of the house setting up and getting things ready for my brother's wedding reception that night. I was inside cutting vegetables and my husband came in from outside and asked me to go check on Dakota since he hadn’t seen him in a little while. Dakota was always the sweetest most cautious kid ever so I wasn’t worried…. I went to check on him to see what he was doing and found him lying under a fence panel totally blue in the face, no heart beat, and no pulse.

The worst fear of EVERY parent had come upon me. I received the hardest news I had EVER received from the doctor when he said he wasn't sure if Dakota would live or die and if he did live he didn't know what kind of recovery he would make from the brain damage that was done. As we sat by our only child's bedside unsure of what was going to happen, I felt COMPLETE helplessness!!

This chapter was NEVER supposed to be written in MY story!! This kind of thing only happened to OTHER people NOT ME!!

I turned to the only person that could help me and poured out my heart to my Heavenly Father to save my little boy!! To not let this chapter end the way I feared it could end! I knew that heavenly Father knew me and loved me! I knew that He was fully aware of my situation. I knew that He knew how much we needed Dakota in our already dark and difficult world!
But this time the answer was yes...he can stay...but NO he won't get to make a full recovery and be the boy that he once was. The 2 year old active little boy that I had watched go out to play that day was now a different little boy who couldn't walk, talk, eat, or even breathe on his own. He was physically with us but I felt like he was gone!! 

After TWO huge NO's, that meant the Trials in my life would NEVER stop..that they would be something I would wake up to EVERY day for the rest of our testimony was shaken!!

My perfect little story that I had written in my head was COMPLETELY erased.. I didn’t even want to continue on and keep writing!! I wanted this book to END!!!

I had NO idea how to be a mom to a brain injured child!! On top of trying to be a wife to a blind man!! It was OVERWHELMING to say the least. I struggled in every aspect of life. I struggled physically trying to care for Dakota. He didn't sleep, he needed constant care around the clock and was physically unstable. I struggled emotionally with the loss of the boy that once was...trying to find him in this boy that I now had. Worst of all I struggled spiritually trying to understand why God was allowing all of this to happen to ME!

I didn’t think it was even possible to write a happy ending to my story! I didn’t even know if I could EVER FEEL happiness again!!!
But guess what I learned?? Through a lot of sleepless nights, pillows wet with tears, on my knees pleading to my Heavenly Father for help and mercy… I slowly came to learn  and understand that…Happiness IS NOT dependent upon circumstances…happiness comes from knowing WHO you are and WHOSE you are!!!

As hard as Satan tried to bring me down…as many hard and overwhelming days as I went through in those next few years…I could not deny my knowledge and testimony that I was a daughter of God, He created me, He LOVED me, He KNEW ME Tessie Friedli…and He had sacrificed HIS son Jesus Christ for ME…so even though there was not one single person on this earth that could understand my pain and heartache…not one single friend, sister, Not even my mom! But My Savior knew because He had suffered pains deeper then I could even imagine so that He would know how to help rescue and save ME when NO ONE else could!! Only through the loving compassion of my Savior was I able to find the hope, faith, and strength to move forward…to get out of bed and keep going!! Only then was I able to trust in my Heavenly Father’s plan for ME!! 
I knew that because my Savior had died for me and my family…one day they would be made whole again!! I stopped questioning and asking Heavenly Father WHY?! It no longer mattered why all of these bad things happened to me because I knew that 1 day I would understand everything COMPLETELY. That in my 3rd sequence EVERYTHING would be made right!!! The pain that I felt would be compensated 100 times greater with JOY…and oh how beautiful that sounded!!

I felt like the Lord was telling me exactly what Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said has counseled: “Don’t give up. … Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead. … It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.”10

I didn’t know how or when these good things would come…I wondered how many chapters it was going to take before good things really did come…But as I put my trust in my Heavenly Father, accepted His will in my life…my eyes were opened to the blessings and beauty that was ALL around me!!!

It has been 5 years this month since Dakota’s accident. They have been some of THE HARDEST years of my life but I can say with complete honesty that they have also been the VERY BEST!! I can honestly say that if I could go back and rewrite those chapters the way I thought they should have gone I wouldn’t. Because as hard as they were, they brought me to my knees in COMPLETE humility and forced me to come to know my Heavenly Father and Savior in a way I had never before known. As I turned to them…They helped me to see who I was, to see the DIVINE NATURE inside of me and have taught me what TRUE HAPPINESS really is!!

Happiness does not come from the amount of friends or followers you have, or the number of likes you get, how good you are at sports or dance, the amount of money or talents you have…Happiness come from within…it is realizing your DIVINE nature!! It is having the ability to focus on ALL 3 sequences and allowing your life to be filled with things of eternal worth!! It is seeing who your Heavenly Father sees you as and living each day to make him proud!!

Sister Wixom in this last general conference said, “God sent you here to prepare for a future greater than anything you can imagine.”9 That future, a day at a time, comes alive when you do more than just exist; it comes alive when you live your life to fill the measure of your creation. This invites the Lord into your life, and you begin to let His will become yours.
Because you are His child, He knows who you can become. He knows your fears and your dreams. He relishes your potential. He waits for you to come to Him in prayer. Because you are His child, you not only need Him, but He also needs you. Those sitting around you right now in this meeting need you. The world needs you, and your divine nature allows you to be His trusted disciple to all His children.

Now I don’t know what your story entails…what types of chapters might be written in YOUR sequence. You may lose a loved one, you may struggle to have a child, you may never get married, you may battle with a debilitating illness, you may face betrayal from someone you love…There will be chapters like mine that are so hard that you wish they were NEVER written! Ones that you wish you could stop and erase! But I promise that if you can get to the end of that chapter, relying on your Saviors love, help, and strength as you go…keeping your eye on the eternal perspective you will not only make it through…but you will find JOY in your journey!! It is through those hardest of chapters that we learn, grow, progress, and become the person our Heavenly Father knew we could become!!

When Heavenly Father sent you into this second sequence he didn’t send you into it to be sad…he sent you to be happy…to share your light for ALL the world to see!

My daily life is STILL hard. I still have to help my husband and take care of ALL of Dakota’s needs…but I am happier then I have EVER been because I have learned to find joy in the simple and beautiful things in my life!!  My favorite quote is “Life Doesn’t Have to be Perfect to be WONDERFUL!”

No matter what your story has looked like in the past, looks like right now, or will look like in the future…YOU get to write the ending!! YOU get to decide if it is a happy ending…no one else can decide that for you!!

It is my hope for each one of you that you will make it to that 3rd sequence where you will get to look your maker in the eye and hear him say Well Done my Good and Faithful Servant!! And you might say back to him as Sister Reeves put it…Was that ALL that was required??

“What will it matter, dear sisters, what we suffered here if, in the end, those trials are the very things which qualify us for eternal life and exaltation in the kingdom of God with our Father and Savior?”

It is my hope and prayer that each one of you will feel the love your Heavenly Father has for YOU!! That even in your darkest of days that you will NEVER forget who you are and that that knowledge will give you the strength to keep going and to find JOY in your journey!!!

Saturday, September 19, 2015


Whirlwind is the best way to describe our life as of late! But a GOOD kind of whirlwind not a bad...Everything about our life is falling a part kind of whirlwind...I know that one all too well and I don't want to go there again! Life is a whirlwind but in the best way possible! Zach has has had a SUPER busy landscaping summer...which means he has had lots of work which is GREAT...not for his back but for our family! ;)

WE MOVED...which is complete CHAOS (I DESPISE moving) but we are FINALLY at the place we get to call home for the next long while!!! It took 6 months to actually get our house built but the house designing, and lot finding has been over a year in the making! I still have to pinch myself that it is real! That we REALLY live here and that we aren't just visiting! It is only 3 miles from where we have been renting so for the last 6 months we have driven by and walked through almost daily! (I know we are crazy...but I TOTALLY recommend it if you are building because SO many little things come up that you notice and your builder might not or that you might want to change or add before it is too late!)

So now instead of just driving by every day, I actually get to drive HOME!!! It is SERIOUSLY our happy place!! EVERYTHING about it was thought out and planned JUST how we wanted it (with our budget in mind of course! ;))  It is DAKOTA friendly to the max and that is my FAVORITE part! Not ONE single step ANYWHERE!!! His shower is a DREAM! No more back breaking over a tub...just roll him right into the shower and stand and bathe him!

I don't have many pictures at the moment (although Zach has banned me from posting any...but not like he reads my blog anyways, so...;)) because for the last 2 weeks it has been a full force packing, moving, unpacking and cleaning of our rental!! There have been WAY too many late nights and early mornings now that school started. We have all been sick except for our healthy Dakota man (we all need to eat like him! ;))

There are still a few boxes that need going through and MUCH decorating to be done but for now we are just enjoying that we can function and live in this space! I'm not going to lie...building a house is A LOT of work...LOTS of decisions...and for this indecisive girl it maxed me out! I LOVE to decorate but all the decisions I had to make on the house have maxed me out for the moment and my mind needs a little break from any more decisions! ;)

We feel at home though! Everyone has been SO kind and welcoming and we look forward to ALL the memories that will be made here in this home...the good AND the bad...although I sure hope their are a lot less bad ones! ;)

Dakota Man started FIRST grade!!!
I still can't believe my little boy is a FIRST grader!! It is the weirdest thing but for some reason first grade was harder on me then KINDERGARTEN!! I was literally in tears the night before as I was getting him ready for bed!

As hard as summers are to keep Dakota entertained...I wasn't ready to let him leave ALL day! I was going to miss our morning runs together, his random smiles and laughs throughout the day, his sweet spirit in my home ALL day!!

BUT I knew school is a happy place for him and a place where he gets to not only learn and develop...BUT a place where he gets to share his light, touch lives, and fulfill his little mission on this earth!! I can't keep him to myself ALL the time...He has WAY too much to give! So I cried my own tears and then the next morning put on my big girl panties and sent him to school!!

He tried to make me feel better by not smiling when we got there so I wouldn't feel too bad that he wasn't going to miss me!

He didn't fool me though when the nurse sent me ALL of these pictures!!! (Having a nurse is the best because it lets you see a REAL glimpse of the day! ;))

I love that kid!!

Grammy brought him a first day of school surprise! He enjoyed it after school!

Navy is growing and changing EVERY day!!

 I just looked at her little body that doesn't walk but RUNS everywhere and I wondered what happened to my baby!! She is still a tiny little thing for her age (less then 3% in height and weight!) but she is turning more and more into a toddler every day!!

I just LOVE her little legs in skinny jeans!!

She is as sweet as pie and gives hugs and kisses (especially when you give her food)! She has learned to sign (she won't say it) please! She says thank you like a minion...Tank Uuuu. Her little voice SERIOUSLY sounds like a minion every time she says it...the way she pronounces it and everything! Her other words are mommy, daddy, more, NO :), Kota, ball, dog, milk, banky/binky (sound the same), HI is most definitely her favorite, and I can't think of more at the moment but I know there are more. She is starting to repeat a lot of words you say to her.

She LOVES her blankies...ALL of them! And still says the sweetest little prayers! She folds her arms so perfectly like this and just rambles in a soft sweet little voice. Often times she is the one reminding me at meal time by just folding her arms and starting to pray!! She is a little sweetie!!

Navy and cousin Cord! Are they just the cutest together?!

As sweet as she TRULY is and may look in this picture...she is a wild child! She runs, dances HILARIOUSLY, throws a tantrum like it's nobody's business and then is over it in less then 30 seconds, she LOVES being outside and will escape as much as she can (we need grass...where is my landscaper?! ;)), she rides her little 4 wheeler like it's going out of style, and she is just a ball of energy...everywhere and into EVERYTHING!! Church is a bit rough at the moment! ;)

She would be more then happy to play in the dirt ALL day long if you let her!

I realize picture quality is horrible! ;)

She loves her dolls but also loves tractors! ;) She got that from her brother!

You can't tell by how tiny she is but she LOVES to eat...healthy and unhealthy! ;)

She is still THE FRIENDLIEST little thing on the planet! She doesn't reach out to go to strangers anymore but she says HI to EVERYONE in this cutest, highest, enthusiastic pitch. HI-EEE! I LOVE watching people's reactions because it surprises them every time! They are she talking to me?! And then she just keeps saying it over and over again!! I love how happy it makes people! She is just the brightest little light! I get so many comments from people about how happy she is. The funniest is when she says it to little kids. Just yesterday her and a little boy were like a broken record saying hi to each other back and forth even when they couldn't see each other anymore. They were shouting hi from all the way across the store!! We love her!!

The best thing of over these past couple months their is this connection that is forming between Dakota and Navy like never before and it makes my mommy heart want to jump for joy!!

 I knew this day would come, at least I hoped it would...where they would bring each other joy and comfort. Lately, Dakota lights up more then he ever has at the sight of Navy. She makes him smile more and more often.

She not longer ignores him but she is SO aware of him and will come over and tickle his feet when he is in his chair, kiss his head when he is laying on the ground, or even climb right on top of him and ride him and make horse noises as she goes.


If she hears Dakota cry in his room she looks up, makes a gasp, says Kota, and runs to his door! She lights up when he comes home from school, and she tries to help me more and more with his cares...brushing his teeth, wiping his face, or starting his feeds.

Just the other day we were out for a bike ride. Navy was riding her 4 wheeler but it was too slow so she jumped off and ran to his bike and just wanted to push!! It was heavy but her little body worked so hard!

Her face says it does Dakota's! ;)

Although neither of them can say it in words...their is a love growing between them and I hope and pray it grows stronger EVERY day!


Just a random moment where Navy was LOVING on him without ANY prompting!! Melt my heart!!

Oh how they both NEED each other! Dakota can teach Navy things that I could only dream of and Navy can bring Dakota joy only a sister can give!!

My heart is SOOO full right now and I feel a little guilty! As the recent news of my friends cancer was announced, our new neighbor who just lost her husband, friends who are trying and trying to have a child with no success, watching those I love dear go through divorces and battle addictions, watching some of my heroes like Mckindree battle EVERY day with her transplant, seeing other friends who are fighting with their children in the hospital EVERY day, hearing accidents of another child almost daily on the news...I feel guilty that things in my life are calm, because I have been in the storm and I know how dark and difficult each day is!! I don't take ALL of these blessings for granted! I know we will each go through our highs and lows and I am not naive AT ALL to think that things will always be this good! But for this moment I will continually count my many blessings and thank my Heavenly Father for these happiest of days...and then I will go and do my very best to help lighten the load of someone else today...that they may have the strength to get through their storm and find THEIR rainbow waiting for them at the end!!
As much as we would like, we can't take away others pains and trials...they are theirs to experience, learn and grow from BUT we can help lighten their load and help them carry their burdens by loving, serving, and being there for them through it all. As many times as I prayed for Heavenly Father to give me a heal my boys and take away my burdens (too many to count!) I can honestly say I am grateful he did not! I didn't know it at the time but He knew what I needed. He knew it would take me a lot of sleepless nights, pillows wet with tears, and time on my knees to learn the things that I needed to learn. If I hadn't had my turn in the storm I wouldn't be able to fully appreciate THESE tender  miracles and blessings I am experiencing RIGHT NOW!! I know for a fact that the greater the pain that we feel...the greater our ability is to feel JOY!! I know it because I am experiencing it!! My life is still VERY hard, BUT I feel a greater sense of peace and happiness then I EVER have in my WHOLE life!! THAT IS MY MIRACLE!!

May we all take the time to look outside of our own little worlds and lift someone in need TODAY!! May we be the hands that help lift the them strength and hope to make it through another day!! How grateful I am for all of the angels in my life that NEVER let me give up...that carried me when I was down and gave me the strength to endure!!

Monday, August 10, 2015

My “LITTLE” kid is now a kid

Dear Dakota,

I can’t believe today you turn SEVEN!!!! Whenever people used to tell me their kids were 7 or 8 I would always think wow that is old…and now YOU are MY 7 year old!! You are no longer a “little” kid you are an official KID!! It makes me kind of want to cry!!
 2015-08-03 09.52.27 

I can physically see that you are growing up. You look like you are 7…except your feet! ;) (They haven’t grown much at all since your accident. Still wearing the same shoes you wore back then! Except of course I have had to buy you several more…not because you wear them out but because your mom likes shoes! ;))

But even though you look older, you feel bigger when I carry you, and officially you are now 7…I still am stuck at age 2! Time stopped for me the day of your accident and it has never quite been the same!

I sometimes let myself wonder what you would be interested in or what you would grab and throw in the cart at the store?? I wonder what your favorite food would be?? What kind of party you would want?? Or even what kind of presents you would ask for?? Who you would want to invite to a party?? Or what kind of party you would even want?? There are so many questions and things that I wish I knew. I wish I even knew what to get you!!!

But in reality…none of those things REALLY matter! None of those things are important! What makes me most happy on this day is that I get to celebrate YOU!!!

We get to celebrate 7 years of having you as our son and Navy’s brother!!
(see that sneaky hand)

You have earned those 7 years and deserve to be celebrated!! You have one of the hardest earthly lives of anyone I know!! I know every day is a challenge for you as you have to rely on me and others to get you EVERYTHING you need. Lots of times I don’t always know what you need or what you are wanting and you are loving and patient with me. I know it must be hard for you to watch your friends, classmates, and cousins running around doing what they please…all the while watching on, longing to run and play right along with them!! You sacrificed SO much to choose a life that is physically hard…to teach your mom, your dad, your sister, your family, your friends, and SO many strangers some of life’s greatest lessons! You have been MY greatest teacher and example in my life and for that I could never repay you! No birthday present could do you the justice you so deserve!!

You are my hero Dakota!! I sit by your side and watch you touch hearts and change lives…all without a single word!! You carry with you a spirit that is undeniable!!

A few months ago, a man I had never seen got up in church to bear his testimony. He started talking about how he hadn’t been to church in years and how one Sunday he decided to join his wife. As he got there he realized that it was the primary program that day and he doubted that he would learn anything or feel much from it. He then pointed to you and said…”As I watched that boy get carried up by that man (your primary teacher’s husband Brother Thackeray) my heart was touched and I knew this was where I was supposed to be.” As I watched this grown man in tears talk about YOU I couldn’t have been more proud to be your mom!! Dakota you are SO special!! I know that you know that!!

I hope as we celebrate YOU this day, week, and month (because that’s what we do!) I hope you know how grateful we are that you chose to STAY and celebrate these last 5 years with us when you could have gone back to your heavenly home, free from all the pain and physical struggles and had a much easier life!!

I love you more than words can say!!!

Happy Birthday my sparkly eyed, heavenly smile, angel face Dakota man!!!
(His FAVORITE present was flying home today and seeing his DAD!! He LIT UP when he saw him for the first time!!)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

And then she was 1!!!

I am still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that this little baby just turned the big ONE!!!

I know every parent feels this way but that year literally flew by and it makes me want to cry just thinking that that tiny infant stage is done and gone and she is turning into a rambunctious toddler!! It still blows my mind that her little brain just soaks up and learns SO much SO fast!! To think she was a blank slate 1 year ago and not she is almost walking and starting to talk is LITERALLY incredible to me! I know I know it’s normal but after what we have been through with Dakota and what we have learned about the brain…I marvel at what the brain can do!!!

It is hard to be too sad though because each new stage is a freaking blast and we love every bit of personality and expression she is gaining…I swear by the minute.
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Over the last few days both Zach and I have heard her several times say, “There you go!” although it sounds more like (ther-a-go). It blew us away. Over her birthday week that we just wrapped up she has been exposed to LOTS of ballons and she decided to say “balloon” (blwoon) and she kinds of blows a raspberry when she says it.


And just last Sunday Zach was pointing to a picture of Jesus at church and then he passed her off to a friend and they showed her a picture of Jesus on the program and they swear she said Jesus. The best part about this is these big words are some of her first. She went from Mama and momo (more) to that. She skipped right over ball, Kota, and please…the simple and more heard words that she hears every day. That is just Navy!

Zach and I both have said that if we had to describe her in one word it would be SPORATIC! She is SO random and you never know what you’re going to get from minute to minute!! She is ALWAYS on the move and keeps us on our toes for sure! She thinks she can walk although she thinks that means WE need to walk her all day and night. She barely holds onto us but she isn’t quite confidant to really go yet! She has taken a few steps on her own and is scaling along furniture like a champ. She will stand on her own when she isn’t thinking and realizing she is doing it.
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The funniest thing about Navy is how INCREDIBLY friendly she is! She smiles at any and everyone and if ANYONE walks up and says hi to her she reaches and whines for them to hold her…stranger and all! It makes for some awkward moments in public. I’m sure people must think I beat the poor girl for how bad she wants to go to them. At first I thought it was super weird but now I love it!
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One day at the store it was so cute…a random older man just walked up to me and said, “You have the happiest baby!! She hasn’t stopped smiling!” It was so cute!!!

I think it is such a pure example of love. It is the way I picture Christ would have greeted and felt towards EVERY passerby. She sees the good in EVERY person and she shows love to EVERYONE! It made me think twice about my interactions with others. I know I should be more like miss Navy! Share more love and kindness to EVERYONE I meet. It doesn’t mean I need to hug them and cuddle them as she does…but I can do a lot better at smiling and showing sincere love and care for them. It is funny how even at 1 she is teaching me so much!

Other fun facts about Navy…

She LOVES to eat any and everything especially broccoli, puffs, and blueberries. As much as she eats it is SO surprising to me at how much she has thinned out and how little she is now. She is barely on the charts at 3% on weight at 17.3 lbs, height 28 1/4 26%, and her tiny little noggin 43.7 @ 13%. She of course is very independent and LOVES finger foods that she can pick up herself and eat. I’m not sure if she even knows how to use a spoon anymore! ;)
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I caught her stealing her cousins pizza crust when they went to play!!

She loves to babble talk all day. I’m pretty sure we have a talker on our hand! Luckily her brother is a GREAT listener! ;) She has become more and more into Dakota and he into her! She sometimes uses him as her jungle gym and most of the time he doesn’t seem to mind. He is smiling more and more at her every day. She is becoming a little entertainer! The way she lights up when she sees him in the morning and when he gets home from school is pretty sweet!!
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Let’s hold hands!!
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I LOVE this second picture at bedtime!!

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Double bath time in Dakota’s bath chair is a little tricky! ;)

We found this killer ride off of Amazon to attach to Dakota’s stroller, bike, or anything really to make our lives so much easier!!
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It saved my life in March when I had to fly to AZ by myself!!! She would seriously sit there and just wave to people.

She acts SO excited about any and everything. She does the open mouth in shock excited face ALL the time over pretty much anything!! It is super fun. She brings A LOT of excitement into our life with her enthusiasm for life!!
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If she is not making that face she is more then likely saying Uh-Oh to any and everything that drops. I love her sweet voice!!!

Unfortunately for me she has learned to rip all of her accessories off! Headband…gone. Bows and ponytail…gone. Shoes…gone…she can even unvelcro them now. Even her darling little earrings she finally discovered and pulls them out all the time. I think now we have only 1 earing of every pair. She is a little stinker!!
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cShe still likes to wave but not nearly as much as she used to. I miss her little arm straight up, all wrist, open hand wave. Now it is more of just an open hand little wave.

Before her first birthday I had Jodi Thornock a local photographer do a cake smash shoot with her. I KNEW Navy would “kill” it because she LOVES to eat, she isn’t afraid of anything or anyone, and she is SO easy to make smile. She totally did! As soon as we set the cake down she was digging right in. (Hence the reason there is no picture of her cute cake on the darling cake stand.) Once she got a taste of that baby there was no stopping her!! She’s her momma’s girl! ;) It ended in quite the mess!!
Her cake was SOOO cute but it didn’t last long. The minute we set it in front her her she dug her little fingers in and went right to her mouth. And she just kept going…
And going!!!
Oh her sweet face…I could eat it…especially with frosting on it! ;)

She took the cake smash VERY seriously and stepped on it, sat on it, and quite literally SMASHED it!! YUM!!!!

Her actual birthday she woke up with balloons showering her!
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This was her first experience with balloons and she wasn’t so sure! After a week of partying, balloons became her favorite thing and her favorite word! (bwoon) Every morning still…so the balloons are still going she wakes up and points right at them and gasps with her open mouth face, then repears “bwoon” until you walk over to them and play for a minute! I love her enthusiasm and excitement for life!!

She of course had to have her own birthday cake for a second time. I made this one so let’s just say it was NOTHING pretty! ;) Luckily she didn’t care! ;) (Sorry I didn’t even get a picture just video)

We partied hard with family! She of course had to dress her best for the occasion because a 1 year old really cares about that! I know…I’m one of THOSE mom’s…I’m sorry I just love girl things!! ;)
And of course we had to decorate to match! ;)
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Can you tell I LOVE black and white stripes and GOLD!!! (I mean Navy does! ;))
This beautiful cake was seriously from Walmart!  Something about that black and white striped vase (toothbrush holder from Walmart..shhh) and pink flowers makes me happier then it should!! They are still alive by my kitchen sink and they make me smile every day!

I told Zach I think I have enjoyed getting ready for Navy's birthday party a little too much! Not sure if I am making up for Dakota's first with Navy since we spent Dakota's first birthday in the hospital with Zach. His family made the cake and brought it and we celebrated in the hospital cafeteria. It was far from an ideal way to celebrate your first child's first birthday...but it brought some sunshine into our dark and scary world at the time. It was Zach's last birthday celebration with a little sight.

 As you can tell...Dakota man did not love the cake as much as Navy! Their little personalities are so different and so funny!!

It was so fun to watch her open presents for the first time. (Christmas didn’t count because she completely didn’t care then!)
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I LOVE Dakota’s face in this first pic and Navy’s in the second! ;)

She got spoiled rotten of course by grammy and poppy and got her very own 4 wheeler! She thought it was pretty sweet!
When we got her to take her first ride she wasn’t so sure. Now she climbs up on there all by her big girl f and loves for US to push the button. She hasn’t gotten the hang of it quite yet. She has pushed it accidentally  on her own and it freaks her out a little because she isn’t expecting it.

It was such a fun night and she enjoyed her third birthday cake thoroughly.
Blowing out the first of many candles in her life, at least I hope and pray!!

She was a good sharer…
Here Daddy…
And Kota!! Good sister!!

She even freely shared with her cute cousins! Houston and Mae LOVED it…the other babes…not so much! I think they just took turns wiping it on each other!
Cruize, Navy, Charlie (we missed Lola)
This picture is HILARIOUS!!! Those tears!

She topped her birthday month off by going on her birthday date to Toys R Us with Grammy and Poppy. (It is there tradition with every grandkid on their birthday!)
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I hope she realizes how lucky she is to have such a fun grammy and poppy!!!

If your still reading this forever long post…my hat is off to you!! This is what happens when I’m SOOO many months behind on this precious little girl! I don’t want to miss journaling one minute of her life as it happens so fast and I never know what will lie ahead! I was never good about journaling as much as I should have with Dakota and I learned a hard lesson! This little girl is worth staying up until 2 a.m. just to get a dang blog post finished that started a couple weeks ago! ;)

To end I have to write a letter to my birthday girl that I hope one day when she is older she will read and feel of my great love and admiration for her!!!

Dearest Navy,

You turned one this month!! It was an emotional time for me…SO happy and a little sad. Sad because I feel like the time is already going TOO fast!! I want you to be my little baby girl forever although I know that is impossible! I cried tears of joy at the thought of celebrating your FIRST birthday because my heart was SOOO full that our Heavenly Father has allowed me to be your earthly mother for a whole year!!! I pondered about your birth and the joy both me and your dad felt that day. I wish I could relive that day EVERY day because the feelings we felt that day were indescribable!! You brought something to our family that only YOU could bring!! A piece of heaven, a ray of sunshine, and an intense feeling of PURE joy!!

I know Heavenly Father prepared you before He sent you to our family! I’m sure He told you about ALL the heartache we have faced and you knew how much we needed you. You knew your life would always look different then your friends…your brother wouldn’t be able to play like other brothers, and your dad wouldn’t be able to do all the same things other dads can do. You knew your mom would need your extra hands to love and serve your family. Your heart was pure and full of love and so you came…even if it meant it might be kind of hard!!

Navy, I knew you were something special the moment I laid my eyes on you!!! I feel SOOOO blessed to be your mom!! There are SOOO many things I want to teach you and I want you to know…but they will come with time!! For now, I want to play with you, love you, and savor your silly giggle, your soft touch, and your tiny embrace!! I love you with my WHOLE heart and I pray EVERY day that you feel that!!

Happy birthday Jo-Jo!!! May you NEVER take one day for granted and may you ALWAYS remember who you are…a child of a LOVING God!!


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(Her little fangs are going away as her top two teeth are coming in. I will miss my Vampire baby!!)