Friday, February 3, 2012

5 YEARS!!!

On January 26th Zach and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary! In the whole scheme of things 5 years is not that long but yet it feels like we have been together forever and I can't really imagine life without him anymore. We have had A LOT happen in those 5 years...more then I EVER could have imagined. Before you get married you have a dream of what your life will look like and I never pictured going through even a tiny bit of what we have been through...especially in only 5 years. I am hoping that we have had our fair share of trials and that for the years ahead life is a breeze. Fat chance I know...that is what we thought after Zach lost his vision and then a year later...BAM...things only got harder. Everyone says the first year of marriage is the hardest but I have to admit that was our best and easiest of all.

I can't imagine going through what we have though on my own. I definitely wouldn't be where I am at without Zach. He is really an AMAZING husband and father and I am SO grateful that the Lord brought us together. Our marriage isn't perfect, we have had our struggles, but I can honestly say he is my best friend and even through the fights and struggles our love for each other and our knowledge that we are supposed to be together has never changed. After Dakota's accident the doctors and human resource people encouraged us to get help and counseling together because things like this often tear marriages apart. At that moment I couldn't see how that was possible because in the hospital we became closer and stronger then before because we had to lean on each other. Over this last year I began to understand more of what they meant. It has probably been the hardest year on our marriage. We both grieve differently, emotions are always high, the stress of everyday challenges that didn't exist take a toll on both of us, we both have a huge hole in our heart for all that we miss of our little boy, daily life is just harder as we have to make so many adjustments for Dakota, spiritually at times we both have struggled and our often at different levels then each other, etc. With all of this going on with both of us, it sometimes turns little stupid things into big things. This year it has really made me work at being more patient, understanding, and loving towards Zach. It has made us have to actually work hard at our marriage and our relationship. Through it all, we are making it. If we can make it through what we have been through already, I think we can make it through anything.

I thought it would be fun to share "our story" of how it came to be for a couple of reasons. One because I get asked ALL the time when people find out I grew up in AZ and he grew up here in UT how we met and second, to have a written record for myself since this is my journal and all. I have never written down our story so I thought as we celebrate our anniversary it would be the prefect time. So here it is!
I was going to school at South Dakota State University in the little college town of Brookings, SD. Why?!...everyone asks would you choose this school...I dreamed about going there ever since I was a little girl...J/K!! Never even heard of it until I got recruited to transfer there from Mesa Community College where I played 2 years of softball. At the time I got recruited I was thinking about being done playing ball and just going to ASU. When I went on my visit I fell in love with the place, the coach, and the girls that were on the team. I decided to pack up my bags and go for it. After playing my junior year there I had a great time but college ball is A LOT. It is A LOT of time and by the end of the season (playing 60+) games you are spent. So I wasn't sure if I wanted to go back my senior year or just finish up college in AZ. I was thinking of future events like marriage and kids and with the LDS population in Brookings being pretty close to nothing, especially boys my age, I didn't think I would ever get married if  I stayed there. I was getting old in the LDS age world where people get married right out of high school. I was pretty sure all the guys my age were gonna be taken. ;) After a lot of thought (my coach was so awesome and patient with me as I made my decision) I decided to go back. I am SO happy I did. Not only because I LOVE playing ball and just had amazing experiences that I will never forget or regret...but that is when I met Zach.
I was going to a home ward (that is all they had...there were probably bout 10 of us in the whole institute in the town of Brookings...I love those people). I was called to teach the gospel doctrine class in the ward where there was about a total of 8 people in the whole class including missionaries and their investigators. Zach was serving a mission in the Rapid City, SD mission at the time. Zach was one of the missionaries that made the rounds to my class. I thought he was pretty cute but he WAS a missionary so it's not like I could throw down my moves or anything. I got to know his spiritual side and personality by the questions he answered in class and the comments he would make. One family in the ward invited me and my friend Karen over for dinner with their family and Zach and his mission I guess you could say that was our first date. j/k But that was the only time outside of class that we ever saw each other. I enentually found out that he was from UT and that he EVEN had a girlfriend waiting for him at home. I thought for sure...there went my chances! ;)
Zach on the left (I couldn't find hardly any digital pics on his mission and I couldn't ask for his help cuz he would probably kill me for putting this up. I know it's not a close one...but he was a little hotty!) ;)
When he got home from his mission I used to joke with my friends in the ward that we would have to go try and find him, knowing that would be impossible...but he had left a strong impression on me that stayed with me. I didn't think I would ever get to see him again. I hoped in the back of my mind that maybe he would come back and visit but what were the chances that I would be around when he did. Anyways, towards the end of my senior year...I think Zach had been home a couple months, a cute couple (The Perrymans) became my home teachers. They were always very interested in my dating and making sure that I got married to a good guy. Anyways, one day they were visiting me they brought up Zach's name (Elder Friedli of course). He had developed a good relationship with their family while he was on his mission and they kept in contact with him after he got home. I shared with them what a great missionary I thought he was and I think they could sense some interest in my part. So they offered to give him my number and have him call me..even though they knew too he had a girlfriend. I was pretty excited but not sure what to expect from it. A few days later I got the call but missed it. He didn't leave a message but I knew it was him since it was an 801 area code. I was nervous he wouldn't call back so I got up the bravery to just call the number back even though he didn't leave a message. I tried to play cool like I didn't know who it was that called but I couldn't fool Zach. (He still teases me to this day about that) We talked for over and hour and the conversation was so easy and just flowed. When we got off the phone I told my roommate that I just talked to the guy I was going to marry. I knew it from that first phone call which was crazy to me. I had dated a lot of guys, some seriously and always wondered...How do I know who is the "right" guy. I always looked at them as prospects but never saw or felt like I knew, until I talked to Zach. It was just so right. So we kept the phone conversations going for awhile. My brother was going to Weber State on a rodeo scholarship at the time so a made a quick weekend trip "to watch him" (not really) so Zach and I could go out. My sisters all came too to watch my brother, so poor Zach had to go out on his first date with me and all my sisters. I wouldn't say it was the best first date but it still led us to where we are at now.
Right before the summer my sister Annie and her husband decided to move to Logan. They were planning on staying there for a long time. (little did I or they know at the time that it was not where they were supposed to be long term but just to give Zach and I a chance to date, they moved back to AZ before Zach and I got married...the Lord works in funny ways) So I lived with them that summer so Zach and I could date more and get to know each other better. I went back to SD to finish my last semester of school (it took an extra semester since I transferred) and Zach surprised me with the most amazing proposal in October and we were married January 26th in the Mesa, AZ temple.
Ever since that day it has been pure bliss! ;)
Night we got engaged. (That is whole other long story but he did it in the church where I was going at the time but it is where we first saw each other)

 I could go on and on about all the things I love about Zach. Since it is our 5 year anniversary I will just name 5.
1. He is the HARDEST workin man who is so self-motivated to be the best provider and care taker of our family. Even after losing his sight he has never let that get in the way although it has made everything 100 times harder for him. He amazingly has kept his landscape company going and done it very successfully without sight and is out at every job from early morning hours til late evenings. 
2. There is not a day that goes by that he is not complimenting me on how amazing, beautiful, and how perfect he thinks I am (even though I know there are days  I probably don't deserve it). I have never once questioned his love for me or have wondered if he still thinks I am beautiful to him. Even though he can't see me anymore, although if he gets REALLY close to my face he sees more, he doesn't forget to tell me how pretty I am. (I don't even have to where makeup cuz he wouldn't be able to tell) 
3. He is the cutest dad who loves Dakota SO much! My biggest fear is to lose Zach and have to remarry and find someone who would love Dakota as much as I do. I hope that NEVER happens because I know I couldn't NEVER find anyone who loves that boy as much as him. I can't tell you how many times a day Zach tells me, "come look at how cute he is, look at his sweet face, I love him SO much, etc" It is seriously every day.
4. He takes pride in EVERYTHING he does. You will never see Zach take the easy way or lazy way out on anything! He is a very detailed oriented person and whether it is a landscape job, cleaning the house or garage, working on his inventions, ANYTHING...he does his very best. Sometimes it drives me crazy because I am a more lets just hurry and get it done so sometimes we don't work so well together but I wish I was more like him. He is a true perfectionist!
5. He is everything that I am not. We really are opposites so he completes all the things that I am not good at.


My dear friend Chelsea Christensen took our family pictures and Dakota's 3 year pictures. She is AMAZING!!! Thanks again Chelsea. She talked us into taking some of just Zach and I which I'm so glad she did. They turned out so fun even though we felt like we were taking prom pictures. She is the most fun and great photographer and even Zach didn't mind pictures when SHE took them. (Zach hates getting pictures taken and it is always week long fights until they are done...but Chelsea was quick and great so even Zach didn't mind them)
Here are some of the rest of them!

I am in LOVE with his face in this one!

My boys!

This one is hilarious!

Has his daddy's handsome eyes!

Zach LOVES holding his hand!

Sweet smile!

I LOVE kissing that face! He is never lacking in kisses!

This is our real life. This is what Chelsea was holding through every picture to get him to smile. Good ole Buzz and Woody always do the trick!


  1. Tessie I have never heard your whole story of how you guys met before so I am SO GLAD you posted it! Happy Anniversary to you guys! Your story brought tears to my eyes! I love it! I also LOVE the family pics they are stunning! I LOVE Dakotas face in the one where you guys are kissing him! That is priceless! xoxo!

  2. Love your story! It's amazing how everything works out. You two are so fun, strong, and beautiful! Thank you for letting me photograph your family. It really meant a lot to me. Happy Anniversary! LOVE YOU!!

  3. This is going to sound so dumb, but that story is SOOO you and Zach. Loved it! You guys are the cutest :) And that Dakota gets more and more handsome and grown up everytime I see him! What a dreamboat!

  4. Happy Anniv to an AMAZINGLY strong, beautiful, and inspirational couple!

  5. Ok you are AMAZING! You totally answered a little prayer for me today. I am preparing a lesson for the YW this Sunday on The Family Proclamation. The whole week I've been thinking about sharing your story and how you've really held tight to the Lord and continued to fill the Proclamation despite the stress and trial in your life. You are such a beautiful example. Then, today I read this post. It was perfect! Do you mind if I share part of what you wrote on Sunday with my YW? You would totally inspire them!

  6. Thanks everyone! Christine you could totally use whatever you want. I was just adding in a few pics and realized that somehow part of our story got deleted so it probably didn't make a lot of sense. I fixed it though so hopefully it makes a little more sense now! Thanks for all your sweet comments everyone! LOVE THEM AND LOVE YOU!!!

  7. Happy Anniversary to you guys... I can't believe it's been 5 years. Just seems like yesterday we were with you, watching you get married. Your guys story is the CUTEST I've heard and it will stick in my mind forever. I remember Zach telling Jake all about the plans, etc. and were so excited for you guys to get married... and here we are 5 years later!! WOW, time flies! I think we should all take a trip back to S. Dakota (I guess I should probably get my hunters safety first cause you know the guys will jump on it cause they wanna shoot pheasants so bad!!), but it would be fun to go back and reminisce about it all too. Your family pictures are absolutely stunning. You guys look great and Dakota looks handsome as ever! His little smile is to die for, so contagious! We love you guys so much!! XoXo!

  8. Tess,
    I feel weird commenting, but I couldn't help it! This is Mari Watkins Ashby. I think we played volleyball at Gilbert together one year and my Dad is Norm Watkins. I know he's done a lot of wedding receptions for your fam...maybe even yours? I don't know! Anyway, I have found your blog somehow and wanted to tell you how handsome Dakota is - HOLY COW! I have a son around Dakota's age and reading your story has really hit home for me and made me hold him tighter and remember the most important things and to cherish the little things....amongst other things. You are an amazing family and such an inspiration!

    I have a brother with a sweet daughter with some challenges....trach, g-tube, etc. You can check out her blog:
    I just know my sister in law would be more than happy to chat about that stuff with you if you ever wanted to.

    Sorry to leave such a long, random comment! Email me if you'd like to get in touch with her.

    Mari Ashby

  9. Happy Anniversary. Those are two very handsome boys! Dakota is as gorgeous as ever. They are both very lucky to have you in their lives. (p.s. LOVED your sweet Christmas card. I'm flattered you sent one. Twice :)

  10. Cute post Tess! You guys have an awesome story! Love all the pics!

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  12. I came across your Instagram and made my way to your blog. Oh my goodness you have a beautiful family and so blessed! Reading your story on how you and Zach met reminded me of how my husband and I met. He was a missionary in my ward and my neighbor invited me over for dinner and they had invited the missionaries. We talked after his mission on the phone every night for hours. So fun reminiscing about that time.