Monday, September 26, 2011


I DID IT!!! My first marathon under my belt and I did it. By the week of the marathon I was just ready to do it. I was getting sick of all the training and was ready to just give it my all. I had been looking forward to it for 10 whole weeks and it finally came.

The week before the marathon for my taper run I decided to run the Brigham City Peach Days race again. I didn't wanna push to hard because all the marathoners out there were saying you gotta conserve it for the race but in my mind I'm thinking...really...I have a whole week and a 10k will take it out of me? So I tried to hold back but after all it is a race so you gotta try. I didn't run as fast as I did last year but still ended up 2nd overall for woman with 45:03. After the run I went and got Dakota and Zach and we came back for the parade. Dakota didn't have as much fun as he did at the Perry parade but who can beat the Perry parade...right?! :)
Watching the parade with my friend Emily's two cuties!

Zach and I decided to take Dakota one night to the carnival for Peach days to ride the rides. Once we got there  I was REALLY disappointed that none of the rides that Dakota could have handled going on would let me get on with Dakota. So the only stinkin ride that we could take him on was the Ferris wheel.
He wasn't too sure about it when we got on

We started out like this but as the ride got going and the horse went higher and higher up I couldn't reach high enough to hold him good so I ended up just holding him for the rest of the ride. Next time I'll just have to get on the horse with him. :)

So the morning of the marathon I woke up to this.

I was thinking who did that?! The only person that would have done something like that I could think of would be Zach's family but it didn't look like any of there handwriting. I loved it but at the same time I was like...WOW...that's a lot of pressure. I know I wanted to qualify for Boston but just finishing my first marathon would satisfy me as well.
Emily and I had to get up at 4 a.m. to be up in Logan to get on the bus by 5:45. It all went smoothly until we got to the lines for the bathroom. They were out of control and took FOREVER! By the time we got down to the starting line we only had a couple of minutes before the race started. As we waited in line at the bathroom it started to rain and for the first 14 miles it kept going and going! By mile 10 it was a COMPLETE downpour and even throwing in a little hail. It was crazy! My dri-fit clothes had no chance at all. Now normally I love to run in the rain but when your running a marathon, it's not as fun to be soaking wet and your feet feeling 10 lbs heavier then normal. Despite the rain, the first 14 miles were so gorgeous running down the canyon with the overcast clouds and the thunder roaring. It was seriously so beautiful. Because we were in the canyon there couldn't be any spectators until mile 14 so I was getting pretty excited to get to that mile to see my family and get some more motivation.

When I got to mile 14 I had NO idea about the greatest surprise of cutest sisters came ALL the way from AZ to be there! There isn't a picture that captured my look of confusion at first trying to figure out who in the heck was cheering for me but when I finally figured it out you couldn't wipe the smile off my face for the next few miles!
This was my surprise!

When I finally figured out who it was!

They were the culprits of the sign in my yard and a few more. Zach's mom had done some cute ones too. I didn't realize til the end what they said, I was just so excited to see all of my fam that came out and cheered me on at each point.
Working on the signs right on Walmart's floor!

My cute hubby with the sign his mom made for him! What a sport!

The race was SO fun but it was hard. Mile 18 is where I hit my wall. My legs were starting to kill and it would have felt REALLY good to stop running. But I popped some Ibuprofen, kept up my Gu, and what really kept me going was thinking of some angel boys that would give ANYTHING to run! I thought of course of my sweet Dakota, sweet Dylan, and another sweet 19 year old boy that is a cousin to Christi at the chamber who got paralyzed from the neck down in a snowboarding accident (his name is Gates and his blog is I just kept thinking to myself...if these boys could run they would never stop. They would love to feel the pain in their legs from running so much (although Dylan gets to run now). But this just pushed me even harder and I wasn't running for myself, I was running for all of them!

Because of these boys and my AMAZING fan club...I was able to meet my goal and finished the marathon in 3 hours and 32 minutes with a qualifying time for Boston.
The finish line never looked SO good!
My sisters decided to spray me with silly string...such a great idea!

What a BEAUTIFUL sight!

My fan club!
Zach's sweet Aunt Becky and cousin Holly with the kiddos were there to greet me at the finish line! Holly was my go-to girl to for marathon tips cuz she is a pro!

My sweet husband that supported me and helped with Dakota for my long training runs. Couldn't have done it without him!

Ashley, Beau, and Houston came out and supported...rain or shine!

Dakota and Grammy were there the whole time but stayed in the car because of the crappy weather and Dakota wasn't feeling too hot! He still had a sign for me though! Thanks Vicki for ALL of your help!

My sistas


Just some fun ones

This is what I looked like afterwards
So happy to be done!

Later that night when I was REALLY feeling it.

My beautiful medal

My amazing running partner and dear friend Emily! DEFINITELY couldn't have done it without her. She is such a trooper and agreed to do it with me when  I had this crazy idea. Did all our long runs together even if it meant getting up at 4 a.m. Love you girl!

So surprisingly I ended up 3rd in my age group of about 150 woman and even got a little trophy for it. I was 38 out of 864 woman overall, and 228th out of 1831 total racers.

After the race my sisters and I went for a yummy lunch at Firehouse and went for a much needed massage. It felt better then ever and I didn't ever want it to stop! It was SO much fun to have them there and get to hang out for a couple of days! I know I always say it but sisters are the best! (My oldest sister Shana didn't get to come cuz she was just up the weekend before finalizing her adoption of sweet Avery...sure missed ya though)

Zach and Vicki stayed home and watched Dakota
Watching a little Buzz with daddy. Love those smiles!

After all was said and done I definitely had a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment but I'm still not exactly sure what I was hoping to get out of it when I first thought up this crazy idea. Back in reality my life is still hard but I think I know I can push through...even through the toughest of times. I think I prefer physical pain and endurance over the emotional pain of watching my husband and son persevere through so much but that's not my choice  I guess. During the marathon there were a couple of girls on the sidelines holding a sign that said..."If it were easy, we would all be doing it." This is true with my life as well. I guess Heavenly Father trusts me enough to give me such a heavy load. As I talked about in a couple posts ago, I don't know why I have been given so much but I want to do the best with what I have been given so I will keep trying...and keep pushing through!

A HUGE thanks to all of you who are helping us along the way...whether by your comments, prayers, faith, or physical help. We couldn't do it without our own personal "fan club!" :)

School Boy!

So Dakota started his first day of preschool and has already gone for 2 weeks (which is 4 times...he goes 2 days a week for 2.5 hours). I was so nervous about how he would do. He is always a little fussy away from home and in environments that are overwhelming and a room full of kids is pretty overwhelming. The teacher wanted me to go with him the first couple of days so that they could get the hang of things and it was good for me to get some peace of mind. He did SO surprisingly well I couldn't believe it. He was so interested in watching the kids and he only got sad a few times the whole day. The second day I kind of backed off a little and let the nurse (he has a nurse with him at all times) and the teacher do their thing and when he couldn't see me he did so good. If he saw me he gave me his little pouty mom I want you!

In front of the school with the nurse. His 2 nurses that will go to school with him are both amazing which brings me even more comfort. They are so sweet with him and are so involved with the class and make sure he is participating with it all. Love em!

I made him take a picture with his mom of course. Too bad my camera was being all weird and they are crappy pics. Oh well!

This is how he was as soon as we walked in. Just staring at the kids.

Sitting in his corner chair that really makes him work his head and trunk control. The nurse is helping him hold his sticks to play with the kids.

Playing his music

He LOVED reading the book with the small group

His cute little picture on the bulletin board outside of his class.

The best part about going to school is that the kids in his class, especially the girls are so sweet and accepting of him. He is by far the most severe in his class. The rest of the kids, you would never know what kind of disability they have, if any. I think most are speech. But they just love him, accept him, play with him, and include him in what they are doing. The scriptures always talk about being like little children and they were the perfect example of why. If only all of us adults could be like them and not judge, criticize, or find fault in others and just love and accept everyone and anyone as they are...we would definitely be more like our Savior. I am so grateful for the example these little 3-5 year olds were to me and I hope that I can be more like them!

The second week I was a little nervous again...wondering if he would do as well, but the nurse said he did great both days. Made a sad face a couple of times but that was it. They even got him smiling and it was so fun to hear his teacher say she got to see him smile for the first time!

He is still doing great and we are seeing more and more of our Dakota shine through. One of the coolest things that happened last week was at swallow therapy. They always give him 2 choices of tastes (which he LOVES)  and make him choose. Normally he chooses with his eyes which he has pretty much mastered. If we ask him to look at the one he wants he will do it and I think he enjoys making choices for himself. Well, last week at therapy he was not only looking at what he wanted but started to move his arm and hand toward the one he wanted. He did this 3 times and on one he was even kind of pointing with his pointer finger. His therapist was SO excited so of course I was so excited too. Sometimes because I don't have the expertise the therapists have I don't think I notice these little things that are so huge, so it is good to have them point them out to me. They would ask him questions like, "do you want more?" and he would make a sound after they asked him. They said that is really good too because he is trying to verbalize a response to you. So basically we are still seeing exciting new things and of course we couldn't be more happy!

He has been really moving his arms around more and more...still not totally controlled but is trying. He is babbling a lot more and gaining more strength in his head and body. He is still sleeping great which has changed our lives for the better. I still have to get up a few times a night to give him meds, turn on oxygen when he goes down or suction but that is nothing compared to where we have been.

He is overall more happy and content these days. We had 2 family birthday parties one Sunday night and I thought before we left...this is not going to go well at all. He was like a whole other kid there. He let anyone and everyone hold him and was content through it all. I was literally shocked!

Papa Ed's Birthday (We didn't get any at Grandpa Bert's :( )

Talking with Grammy and cousin Houston

Daddy playing with Houston

Just chillin being his cute self

Wishing the birthday boy a Happy Birthday. 2 CUTIES!

Lovin on Aunt Becky

Snuggling with Grandma
Reading a book with Poppy and Grandma and Grandpa Rhees

Zach's fam with Papa Ed (minus Jenny's cute fam)

Fam with Grandma Nannie

We even got brave and took him out with us to a restaurant for the first time and he just chilled in his stroller and enjoyed me giving him a few tastes of the food. It was so fun to be together somewhere in public as a family again.

He has also decided that not just one of his favorite blankets is enought...he wants his two favorite. I always cover him at night with two blankets (1 to snuggle and 1 to cover). Well, in the morning I take 1 off and let him bring his other one out. Well, the other morning I took the one off like normal and he started to cry. I just thought oh great it's gonna be a fussy day but then thought for a minute and asked, "do you want this one too?" He immediately quite crying and gave a tiny grin when I gave it back to him and was totally fine after that. Now when we ask him if he wants two he just gives you his cute grin and likes one on each side of his cute little face. He doesn't have to all the time...only if he sees both of them.
This particular night I put him down like usual and he started fussing which he hasn't done since we started this new routine. After so long I went in there to check on him and grabbed the blanket covering his body and put it up by his other cheek. That was the golden ticket. He went right to sleep after that.
Such a sweetie!

Poppy could use your help working on their new addition!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My Big Boy (Not talking about Zach) :)

Well, after my last post I'm sure all of you are wondering if I'm still alive...I AM! :) I am doing better and Dakota's birthday came and went and we had a good time despite how hard it was leading up to it. I have to write a disclaimer about my "bad day" posts so that you don't all think I am crazy...although I really am. :) So...I'm not good at talking about my feelings, especially the hard ones. They tend to bottle up inside of me. I don't like to talk to Zach when I am down, mad, frustrated, sad, or anything negative because he is dealing with it all too and I don't wanna add any more to his plate then he already has. It's hard for me when he vents to me because it only brings me more down to see him down but I know I need to be there for him at the same time so it is basically I try not to vent to him although sometimes I can't hide it. When my mom and sisters call on my bad days or Zach's family asks how I'm doing I just start crying and it's all I can do to stop crying so I can't really share how I'm really feeling because they wouldn't even be able to understand me through the tears so I hold it all in. day it just gets to me and I have to let all these days of bottling up inside of me come out and this is where I lay it ALL out there (sorry)! It's the one place where I can get it all out and cry at the same time. When I am feels SOOOO good. It's like once I write it it's gone for awhile and I can start fresh again...until the next time at least. So my apologies to all of you who have to read it but it's reality. Life is hard...really hard some days and I can't pretend like its there you have it! (This is not one of those don't worry :) ) I do have to say a quick thanks to ALL of you who commented, texted, called and left messages, or wrote me a letter after reading my last post. It really helped pick me up and get me going. So thank you for all your love and support!!!

My baby boy just turned 3 and  I can't really believe it! The morning of his birthday I woke up to a big Diego balloon out our front door and a big Happy Birthday banner from all of Zach's family. When I went to get Dakota out of bed I sang to him and he just looked at me with those gorgeous eyes of his and gave me a little IT IS my birthday today. The Happy Birthday song was his favorite song for about a month...every time we sang it we got a big smile We would sing Happy Birthday to Buzz, Woody, mommy, daddy, anybody who was over and then say "It's not THEIR birthday" and he thought it was the funniest thing...but today it was HIS song. I took him right out to see his Diego balloon and he got another big smile on his face. When I tried to take him back inside he started to cry...he LOVED that balloon. So I let him come inside and watch Diego instead...he is a big fan. :) His cute great grandparents brought him over his very own little birthday cake. We were gone to the chamber when they came though. Later when Zach got off work we took him to Willow Zoo but he really didn't care much to be there. It was hard for him to see the animals because they are pretty small and far away. But we tried...right?!

As I always say birthdays should be celebrated for a week so we didn't just stop with that one day. Doug and Vicki wanted to take him and Houston to the Weber County Fair to see the animals for his birthday. My sweet brother-in-law Riley was there at the fair doing his horse pull competitions so we met them there to take Dakota for a ride on the wagon. He thought that was pretty cool. Doug and Vicki were so sweet to take Dakota and they said they had the best time with the boys. Houston was even acting silly in the car and had Dakota laughing pretty hard. He hasn't laughed much for awhile like he used to so it was SO good to hear. Houston is such a cutie and Dakota is so lucky to have him for a cousin. Thanks Doug and Vicki for making his birthday so special! Sure love you guys!
Us riding with Uncle Riley (Thanks Riley! Your the best!)

Grammy and Poppy with the boys

Dakota and Houston all ready to rock and roll

So cute! Thanks you two!!!!

Dakota and his Poppy

Dakota and Grammy

In the car smiling and laughing at Houston

Sunday night we had all of Zach's family up for dinner and cake. Vicki got him Diego decorations so I was trying to figure out that day what to do for a cake. For those of you who are not Diego fans I decided to make Diego's "rescue pack." I ran out of frosting on the sides so it didn't look very pretty but Dakota didn't care...he still thought it tasted good. :) He got spoiled by the family...everyone pitched in to give him money for an IPADhoo!
My first message on my chalkboard paint! Saved the best message for my boy! (Yes, it is still on there, I am a lamo)
His sweet rescue pack cake...If anyone needs a cake decorator you know who to call! ;)

Checking it out

The after math!

Grandma and Grandpa Rhees

Aunt Jenny, Uncle Bobby, and Livvy

Aunt Ashley and Houston (Beau was sick...or so he claims. ;) )

Grammy and Poppy

Dakota and Houston

Mommy and Daddy

Uncle Ryan (Lindsay had to work...missed ya)

Opening for IPAD

Movies...Loves them! Also got some sweet clothes, hats, and sunglasses for our Ranger rides.

My party animal all pooped out!

The next weekend my parents came up because my dad was roping up in Heber. We decided to go so we could watch him rope and also visit our sweet friends the Olsons who I blogged about that lost their sweet 5 year old son. We decided to take their precious little Gentry for a few hours to give them a little break (they are still trying to recover from their injuries). We shouldn't have done that because I wanted to take her right home with me. She was the sweetest, funnest, precious little angel and both Zach and I had so much fun with her. It felt so good to hold her and just interact with her. I know that sounds weird but it was so different holding a child that could hold themselves up. Just watching her grab and play with things just amazed me. It's like I forgot what kids are capable of doing. I continue to hope that I will get to see Dakota do all of those things again. She was such a doll it made both Zach and I so baby hungry for another but we both know physically, emotionally, and mentally we are not ready. So instead we will just keep borrowing other people's babies...whoever wants to give them up to us for a few hours. :)

The best part about it all is that Dakota got to ride a horse again for the very first time since his accident. I was curious how he would be. He was having one of his super fussy days and I thought...this is not going to go well. As soon as he started riding that horse he was as content as could be. No crying, just relaxed and content. It was as if he was telling us...FINALLY!!! This is what I have been waiting for.
Riding with Papa

Look at that cute boy!

2 cowboys!

Riding with Mommy

Had to give Gentry a ride too!

My brother Ty and his wife Heather came to the roping too so it was so fun to get to see them and visit with them. They stopped by our house on their way home and Dakota LOVED their dogs.
Check out his cute grin...not yours Ty. ;)

Over the next week while my parents were here he got to ride 6 out of the 7 days and it was so fun to do that again with him.
Riding with his "cool dudes"

He had a cute little bond with my dad. The first morning my dad was there and came up to tell him good morning he just smiled at him so cute. (He doesn't do that hardly at all to people) When my dad would leave the room...even if I was right there...he would just start crying. My dad was so cute and sweet with him. He would talk to him so cute and take him out to the garden with him every day to pick the vegetables. (I need my personal gardener back...that was nice :) ) It must have been a cowboy thing. It's always a treat to have them here with us. Sure love you guys!
Snuggled up on the bean bag

Watching Papa pick the veggies

Giving them to Dakota to hold

Such a big helper!

My big boy is supposed to start his FIRST day ever of school tomorrow. (He woke up today with a little fever so I probably won't send him anymore) It is so weird to think about him in school. If he had not had his accident I wouldn't be starting him in preschool this soon but he will get therapies and a lot of helpful things there so I decided to go ahead and let him start. He will only go 2 days a week for about 2 1/2 hours so I think I can handle that. I think it will be good for him to have to be without me for a bit and good for my sanity as well. Maybe I'll be able to do my own laundry again, actually clean my own house, go to the grocery store, go running, or just take a nap. Who knows?! The possibilities are endless. I worry about him of course but he will have his own nurse with him all of the time who can devote all of her attention to that gives me a little peace of mind. Vicki joked that he may miss his shows (he loves watching shows) so we may have to sneak a DVD player in his back pack for him. :) I just pray that he will be happy and enjoy it.

I took him to nursery for the first time last Sunday. We only stayed for an hour but he did pretty good. Sometimes he intently watched the other kids play. He fussed a little bit but for the most part it went better then I expected it to go. We helped him play with toys, read some books, and play with play dough. As I sat there and watched the other kids his age play and interact I was amazed at all they could do. I just kept thinking I can't believe Dakota would be doing all of these things. Sometimes I feel like we are in our own little bubble and I forget that Dakota is 3 and should be doing all of these crazy things and then I get out in the real world and am reminded of how far we still have to go. I just hope we will get there some matter how long it takes...I am willing to do whatever I can to help him. I sure love you buddy!

Our biggest break through came over these last few days. Unless you have tried get Dakota to sleep you have no idea what an "art" it is. Only my parents, Zach's parents, and Jenny REALLY no what I am talking about here. You hold him on the bean bag for at least thirty minutes up to several hours depending on the night until he FINALLY falls asleep. Then you have to wait at least 10-20 minutes before you ATTEMPT to get off the bean bag to TRY and lay him in bed, hoping and praying that he won't wake up because then you have to start ALL over. It's definitely a project. Once he is in bed you gotta duck down in case he opens his eyes and get out of there. Then 10-15 minutes later you have to go back in and hook him up EVER so CAREFULLY to the humidifier and oximeter without waking him up. It seriously takes a lot of time and effort and nights like last Saturday where he didn't go to bed until 3 a.m. about kill you. I have been wanting to get him independent in going to sleep again like he used to be before his accident but haven't known when the right time would be. Well Sunday we decided to start trying it out. I had NO idea it would go as well as it has. He started off crying for about 45 minutes (not all screaming, some just whining) and then fell asleep. Every time since then counting naps it has gotten shorter and shorter until last night and today's nap he doesn't even cry at all. As I sing to him before laying him down he looks at me with those same eyes he used to before the accident and then just is content as you lay him down. I see my little boy in him again in those moments and I can't help but fill overwhelmed with happiness.

I have been trying really hard since a Sunday school lesson a couple of Sunday's ago that reminded me to look harder for the tender mercies of our Heavenly Father. I know at times I focus more on how hard life is and how much we are missing that I can't see the little mercies and blessings that my Heavenly Father is giving to me. I have tried to be more in tune, have a more grateful heart, and be closer to my Savior so that I will see these moments and realize that my Heavenly Father DOES love me and cares about me and is by my side helping me through these most difficult times. I have been able to recognize more and more and I know that what the scriptures teach us are true. D&C 84:88 "I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." I know this is true for all of us, no matter what trials we are facing...big or small...but it is up to us to recognize his hand and help in our lives. I know it's not easy to always do but I am striving to be able to feel and recognize this promise every day of my life. Knowing that He cares and He loves me is what gets me through and that one day all of this will work together for my good. D&C 122:7 "Know thou, my son (daughter), that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for they good." A sweet lady in my ward gave me a talk called Walking on Water. In there he talked about "If the Lord asks you to do something, then YOU CAN do it." I know that sounds simple but it hit me hard. I don't know why the Lord has asked SO much of me. I don't feel capable a lot of the time but if he has asked me to do it I know that he believes that I can or he wouldn't have asked me to do this. It is my hope and prayer that I not only CAN do it, but I can do it to the level that he desires of me!

Dakota is still going strong with therapies, seeing him getting stronger little by little. Head and trunk control are getting better. He is really understanding a lot and to me trying to communicate his wants and needs with his eyes and facial expressions.
Wearing his cool dudes and checking out the IPAD

He has gotten a lot stronger with this exercise so now I can do it all by myself without help.

We met with the ENT doctors about his trach. We are still having to suction him about twice a day and to be able to get the trach out you obviously have to not suction at all and he has to cough everything up on his own. He is getting better but still doesn't always recognize when he needs to cough. So they want to put him under and go in and look at his airway to see if there is any scar tissue built up that might be blocking him from coughing everything up. They also talked about doing Botox in his tongue to decrease the amount of secretions that he has. I'm not sure if I'm too thrilled about that because it could make his swallow worse and backfire on all the hard work we have been doing on his oral stimulation. He has begun sucking and I don't want to take steps back. We are thinking about getting a second opinion on that before we make our final decision. He has come so far on his own with managing his secretions so there is a good possibility with more time he will be able to do it without intervention of Botox. That may mean keeping the trach in longer then we had hoped but we want to of course do what is best for we will see.

(We didn't get any pics of my mom while she was here so I had to throw this one in)