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)


  1. Tessie, those pictures are priceless of Dakota back in the saddle again! From the pics, it looks like he has some of the best grandparents in the world, truly. :) And getting him to fall asleep on his own, that is huge! Prob such a relief for you...You are seriously an awesome mom, and are doing hard things with such grace...thanks for your example. I'm very proud to know you.

  2. I seriously can't believe he's 3 :( Time just flies when your having fun. A BIG HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our sweet Dakota from the Lythgoe Family. I was just going through some pictures the other day and found some of Dakota taken exactly a year ago in Vicki's backyard, they're nothing fancy just some random cute pictures that as soon as they come I will get them to Vicki I made doubles of everything I had so you and Vicki can each have a set :) Miss you guys like crazy!!! I hear you have your hunter safety done, so now we need to get everyone together and go shoot some clay pigeons!! Oh and maybe have a little breakfast too. Sending all our love and prayers to you guys XOXOXO
    The Lythgoe Family

  3. Those pictures of him riding truly are priceless. LOVE em. I am so sorry it's been rough for you lately, please feel free to call or text me if you need to vent to anyone, honestly!! I'm here to listen. Can't wait to spend LOTS of time with you guys in a couple of weeks, so excited!! Happy birthday Kota, I can't believe he's 3. Time flies. Thanks again for always being such an example to all of us. Your testimony is SO STRONG and it helps build mine every time I read your posts. You an amazing woman and I too am SO HONORED to call you my friend. Love you guys SO MUCH!

  4. I read your blog every once in a while (hope you dont mind). I've commented before just so you know who is peeking in on you guys. I went to school with Zach, didnt know each other, but we went to the same school. I am in Vicki and Doug's ward as well. Anyway, I check in every so often and I have to say you are amazing and so is Dakota. Since I only look so often it is easier for me to see his progression I think. I honestly felt like crying when I saw that picture of you doing his exercises. He looks so strong and almost like he is just ready to take off. He is lucky to have you as his mom. You seem like an amazing person. Thanks for being such a shining example. I can learn a lot from you.

  5. Happy 3rd birthday, Dakota! I'm glad he is doing so well and got to get back in the saddle. You should check out North Fork Therapeutic Riding...I think they have a website. I'm sure you could google it and I know they have a facebook page. Anyway, it is located in Rexburg, Idaho and they have done amazing things for my friend who was injured riding a bareback horse. His story is on there under our riders...but he was in a coma for 2 1/2 months and the doctors had given up on him ever waking up. I know it's a long ways away from where you are, but I would seriously be willing to let you stay with us even if you just wanted to come check it out. You can e-mail me at

  6. I know you may not notice it because you see Dakota every day but holy cow I can see a big difference in him over the last few months. You can just tell that he is healing and getting stronger.

    Praying that everything continues to progress!

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  8. Hollie Pepe here. Just doing my "check-in" on your blog! *Happy 3rd Birthday Dakota, you look like such a Big Boy:) He looks Great! I think expressing yourself right here is the perfect spot. (i do the same thing) Its Therapeutic. I think its nice for you to be able to open your blog and read word for word your thoughts and feelings.. You, Z and lil Dakota are growing together. Maybe not in the way you imagined, But you've got each other! Your family bond is magical and i wish to you guys all the bits and pieces of happiness and that more miracles shine your way!

  9. I love this post! I am so happy that things are looking up for you. It looks like he had a wonderful birthday, thanks to his wonderful mother :-)

  10. Words can't express how happy I was to see the pictures of him on the horse, especially with you and your dad. I'm so glad you have such an awesome family to be there for you and help you. I'm always thankful for the amazing families you both are a part of and it always reminds me of why you two are such amazing people as well! Love you all. Happy 3rd Birthday to one of the cutest lil' guys around!

  11. I just need to tell you how much your blog has touched my wife Nicole and I. I cam across it and I went back and just read as much as I could. my wife has a blog as well. blind that is actually how we found you. I noticed that you had referred people to our blog. I just have to tell you that when I read you last post it hit very close to home for me. Nicole had a brain injury caused by a bacteria that caused her to go into a coma. She has had a hard road. I remember helping her learn to walk again, and learn to do things that had seamed so easy before. As I read your words my heart melted. I can relate to you and your family in so many ways. I instantly fell in love with your son. What a little angel. I want you to know that I have been praying for you and your family. If anyone deserves a miracle it is you. Give your boy a big hug from Nicole and Brandon. If you ever need anything feel free to reach out to us. Thank you for the honesty of your blog posts and for sharing your story and your faith.

  12. Happy Birthday Dakota! You did such a great job on the cake!!!!! LOVE your message board!! D&C 84:88 is my most favorite scripture! I hope you feel all the love from your Heavenly Father and all of us who are thinking of you and your family. May many more blessings be sent your way!! I'm glad you have this blog to vent and that it helps but I'm very sorry you have all these HORRIBLE and hard and sad trials to have to go through. :o( *hugs* You are amazing. Thank you for sharing your stories!

  13. Tessie not sure if you have yo have a special ENT for him but wanted to let you know Dr. Bikhazi at Ogden clinic is absolutely amazing! So good with the kids. Dakota looks AMAZING keep up the great work!

  14. sweet post Tess! Glad to see all of your smiling faces! :) What a fun week of birthday stuff! Looks like you guys had a blast! My little sister has moved in with us and so did her horse mayday! I was thinking about little Dakota when she braught him! Hope your marathon went well and that you had a blast! Love the post and pics!